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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Howard Jay Chizeck
E E 299
Seattle Campus

Introductory Topics in Electrical Engineering

New and experimental approaches to basic electrical engineering. May include design and construction projects.

Class description

Please disregard the official catalog description of EE299 for this Discovery Seminar version.

Scientist and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke's 'third law' states that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Many of us use electronic objects (such as cell phones and mp3 players) with little understanding how they work These technologies have had an impact on the lives of most of the world's population. For example, the recording, transmission and broadcast of sound and images have provided new opportunities for entertainment and the arts. The telephone, cell phone, instant messaging, text messaging, email, chat rooms, video games, GOOGLE searches, eBay, MySPACE , YouTube and SecondLife have changed social interactions in significant and often unexpected ways. During the same past century, many writers of scientific and speculative fiction explored the implications of new and future technologies on society and the individual. In some cases, key technological innovations and their implications were not predicted by science fiction writers (like the personal computer). But other technological changes were accurately foretold long before their arrival. Fictional portrayals have also motivated the development of the new devices and capabilities.

This course will consider three topics: Computer and Communication Technologies, Nanotechnology for Biomedicine, and Technological Responses to Climate Change. We will explore the development of these technologies during the last century and likely innovations of the next two decades. Economic, social and political impacts will be examined, with particular attention to how these technologies have changed interactions between individuals. We will also look at the accuracy and effect of predictions by science fiction authors.

In addition to lectures and readings (both fictional and non-fictional), students will visit cutting edge research laboratories at the UW, and hopefully they will meet with one or more published science fiction authors. Assignments in the course will include individual essays, group efforts and group presentations.

The main goals of this course are to enhance to foster multi-disciplinary discussion of technology and social change. This course is meant for anyone with an interest in the societal implications of technological innovations. This includes, but is not limited to, potential majors (or minors) in engineering, computer science, mathematics and the sciences. It also includes students with an interest in science fiction.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Howard Jay Chizeck
Date: 08/26/2013