Phys171: Introductory Physics: Mechanics

Fall 2006, Sections 0201 and Honors
M T Th F
9:00-9:50,  Room: Phy 1201


Professor: Luis A. Orozco
Room 2127 (Physics Bldg.)
Phone: 301-405-9740 

Office hours: After class, or by appointment.

Grader: Lijun Zhu
4223 (Physics Bldg.)
301 405 6192

Office hours: W 2:00 to 3:00 PM


What the course is about:

Physics 171 is the first semester of a three semester sequence for physics majors and those desiring a rigorous preparation in the physical sciences.  The syllabus includes kinematics,
Newton's laws, energy and work, linear and angular momenta, special relativity, and an introduction to gases and fluids.

Web Site:

Homework at:

Or, you can get there by going to the Web course page:


MATH 140 (functions, limits, continuity, derivatives and applications of the derivative, sketching of graphs of functions, definite and indefinite integrals, and calculation of area) and a high school physics course or permission of department. Corequisite: MATH 141 (techniques of integration, improper integrals, applications of integration (such as volumes, work, arc length, moments), inverse functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, sequences and series.)

TextbookPhysics for Scientists and Engineers , vol. 1, 5th ed., Tipler & Mosca (W.H. Freeman & Co) 2004. ISBN: 0-7167-0809-4 (Hardback), 0-7167-0900-7 (Softcover), 0-7167-8339-8 (Standard Hardback), 0-7167-4389-2 (Extended Hardback).

Recommended Alternate Text:  Six Ideas that Shaped Physics, Volumes C, N and R, 2nd ed., by T. Moore (McGraw Hill) 2003.  ISBN: 0-07-229152-4, 0-07-239712-8, 0-07-239714-4.These are a very readable set of books that present the physics we will be covering in a different, sometimes more conceptual way.  I will occasionally be drawing from this book.  I hope to have copies on reserve in the library and also in the SPS lounge.

Study Sessions :   Time and place: Thursdays 2-4 PM, Room 1305A.  I and/or the TA will be available during part of this time, and/or  you may be able to reach me or the TA  in our offices. Feel free to stop by the study session at any time to ask a few questions, or to stay there to study or participate in discussions of other students' questions as well as your own.

E-mail:    I encourage students to make use of e-mail for quick correspondence with me (or the grader) regarding lecture material, homework problems, or whatever. I will also use e-mail to communicate with the class at large. Please include PHYS171 in the subject line. Students are responsible for making sure I have their correct email address and checking their email daily. Important messages will sometimes be sent to the class by email.

Course web site :   Course plan, homework assignments, supplements, and exam solutions will all be posted at the course web site.

Homework:   Assigned weekly.  The assignments will likely be a mix of computer-based (WebAssign) problems and supplementary handwritten material.  The WebAssign problems will be closed out just before midnight on Thursdays, and the supplementary problems will be due at the beginning of class on the assigned day (usually Friday). Late homework accepted only under dire circumstances. If you know it will be impossible to turn in an assignment on time you must discuss this with me  in advance of the due date. Medical reasons accepted only with a doctor's note. You are encouraged to discuss the homework with others, but what you finally complete should be your own work. Please make sure you include your name and the homework and course numbers and staple the pages together. Homework sets must show reasoning leading to the final answers in a clear and readable fashion to obtain credit.

Exams:   There will be three one-hour exams and a final.  See the class schedule for the dates.   If an exam is unexpectedly cancelled due to inclement weather, it will be automatically rescheduled for the next class session. The tentative date of the final is Monday, December 18, 8:00-10:00 AM.  Please check the schedule and/or the class web page to know when the final will be. Absence from exams will be excused only under dire circumstances. If you know it will be impossible to attend an exam you must discuss this with me in advance of the exam. Medical reasons accepted only with a doctor's note. A missed exam with legitimate excuse may be replaced by an oral exam. University rules require a passing grade on the final in order to complete the course.

Grading: The course grade will be based on the homework and exams. The lowest two homework scores     will be dropped. The following weighting will be used in determining your grade:

Homework (2 lowest dropped)




3 Midterms combined


Final Exam


Note also that University policy requires a passing grade on the final in order to complete the course.

Tips for doing well :

  • Freely ask questions in class.
  • Read the textbook and ask about anything you don't fully understand.
  • Do all of the homework problems. You are allowed and encouraged to discuss the homework with anyone you wish.  However, in order to optimize your learning, you should initially make a serious attempt to solve the problems by yourself.
  • Don't wait until the night before the homework is due to begin working the problems!!
  • Seek help immediately if you don't understand the material.

Honor pledge and academic honesty:  The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students.  As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course.  It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit further exhibit your commitment to academic integrity, remember to sign the Honor Pledge on all examinations and assignments: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (assignment)."

In this course it is assumed that all students have entered the University agreeing to the honor principle which would apply in general to all campus activities, so usually no specific statement is required. As for this course in particular, note that although you are encouraged to discuss homework with others, the work you turn in should be your own formulation and should reflect your own understanding. This is perhaps a fine line to judge in some cases. Please ask me if you have any questions.