Physics 161, Fall 2017

Sections 0101, 1013,0104

Instructor: Dr. Drew Baden
Office:PSC 3208D
Phone:301-405-6069 (56069 on campus)
Office hours:TBD, and by appointment
TA: Qixin Yang
Office:2144 Chem & Nucl Eng Bldg
Phone:301-405-1969 (51969 on campus)
Office hours:TBD, and by appointment
Lecture:MWF 3:00-3:50 pm
Lecture Room:PHY 1410
Discussion Sections:0101Tues 3-3:50pmPHY 0405
0103Fri 10-10:50pmChem 0128
0104Fri 11-11:50pmPHY 0405
Pre-requisite:Math 140
Co-requisite:Math 141
Course Description:

This is the 1st semester of a 3-semester sequence of calculus-based general physics for engineering students. We will study laws of motion, force, energy, principles of mechanics, collisions, linear momentum, rotation, gravitation, fluid mechanics.


University Physics with Modern Physics, 14th Edition, by Young and Freedman

Note that you can get the hard with the entire text, or a soft copy that divides the text into several sets of chapters. For this course, the 1st set for the soft copy is apparently sufficient.


All homework will be via the Mastering Physics web site:

You will need to use the following ID to access this class:


The following pdf file comes from the company (Pearson) and is a decent 1 page instruction on how to use Mastering Physics:


Course Schedule:

Below is a preliminary schedule for what I will try to cover. However, given that life is full of fluctuations, and that we should all be flexible, I may make adjustments along the way.

  Mon Chapter Wed Chapter Fri Chapter
Aug 28   30  
Sept     1
4 Labor Day   6   8
11   13   15
18   20   22
25   27   29
Oct 2 Exam 1   4   6
9   11   13
16   18   20
23   25   27
Nov   1   3
6 Exam 2   8   10
13   15   17
20   22 Thanksgiving   24 Thanksgiving
27   29  
Dec     1
4   6   8 Exam 3

Class Holidays:

There will be no class on Labor Day (Monday, Sept 4), and the Wed and Fri of Thanksgiving week (Wed Nov 22, and Fri Nov 24).

Exam Schedule:

The following schedule is tentative for the midterms, however the final is set by campus and will definitely be held at that time and date:

Midterm 1:Monday, Oct 2, chapters TBD
Midterm 2:Monday, Nov 6, chapters TBD
Midterm 3:Friday, Dec 8, chapters TBD
Final:Thursday, Dec 14, cumulative

The importance of good engineering in modern life cannot be overstated, and good engineering vs bad engineering (bad means mistakes!) can make a huge difference in all of our lives. Mistakes will happen, but it will be your job to guard against it. For instance, mistakes like these:

can cost lives and waste huge amounts of money. Mistakes like these:

can not only cost you your job, but also your self respect!

The purpose of this class is to give you an introduction into the fundamental principles of mechanics, and how to think like a scientist/engineer. The latter is probably the most important thing you will get out of this course, in that it will help you in your engineering career to be successful, and hopefully, to not make the above kind of mistakes!


Lectures are intended to help you with acquiring a basic understanding of the material. I will go over the relevant chapters, with an emphasis on demonstrations and problem solving, and how things work. There will be no attendance taken at the lectures! However, you are all adults (you are old enough to drink, marry, have babies, drive cars, get tattoos, go to jail, join the army, etc.) so I will rely on you as young adults to do the right thing for yourself and your future as engineers. Note that I may use the lectures to make announcements, and if I do I will try to also send around an email.

Discussion Sections

You will also have a discussion session each week, except at the beginning of the semester. The discussion session is designed to help you with your understanding of the material. My advice is to prepare in advance at least one question from the homework or the book that you are not sure about, and ask your TA to go over it. One piece of advice: donít go to the discussion and ask the TA to solve the problem, instead go and ask the TA to teach YOU how to solve the problem. Thereís a difference ( you donít learn to shoot jump shots in basketball by watching your TA do it!).

Homework is how you train your mind. You are encouraged to work in any size group you feel comfortable with.

Course Materials

The textbook for this course is ďUniversity Physics with Modern PhysicsĒ by Hugh D. Young and Roger A. Freedman, published by Pearson. It is available either as a single hardcover volume or as separate paperback volumes. Either version works. PHYS 161 will cover material corresponding to the first 13 chapters, which is all in volume 1 of the paperback edition. The current edition of the book is the fourteenth edition.


Homework problems from the textbook will be assigned throughout the term. The assignments will be in electronic format and will be carried out using the MasteringPhysics software (see above). You should do the homework before the due date, because after that the web site will close the assignment and you will not be able to turn it in even if itís late.


You will be given 3 midterm exams (see schedule above) in class, plus a final exam at the end of the semester (12/14, see above). The dates for the midterms are subject to change based on how well we are doing getting through the material, the weather, bomb threats, fire, etc. But for the most part you can pretty much count on those dates.

On exam day, bring a pocket calculator and writing tools (pens or pencils). You are not allowed to use your mobile device during the exam (we have to make a level playing field, which means no one can have the advantage of using google!), so be sure to bring a separate calculator (not the one on your smart phone!).

All exams are closed-book and closed-notes. However, you should prepare and bring a formula sheet (both sides are ok for formula) containing equations and values of fundamental constants, but EMPHATICALLY NO PROBLEM SOLUTIONS. The exam proctors may ask to take a look at your formula sheet, and if there are any problem solutions there, they may make you take the exam without it!

When the exams are handed back, I will post a distribution on this web site so that you can get an idea of how well you did relative to the class as a whole.

In the complicated modern life, sometimes you will have to miss exams for all sorts of reasons (illness, family, legal, etc). I have found that make-up exams are not only difficult to make fair, they are inherently unfair to the person who takes them (they are usually harder than the scheduled exam). So, to make things simpler, I will drop the lowest of the 3 midterm grades when making up your final grade. (FYI, to do this, at the end of the semester I will normalize all 3 exams to have the same mean and standard deviation, and will use the two exams that have the best score relative to the mean and standard deviation for your grade, dropping the exam with the lowest score.) This means that if you have to miss an exam, then I will drop that exam from your grade.

Note that if you miss the final, however, you will receive an incomplete (I) for the course provided that you have a passing grade up to that point.

Course Breakdown

Midterm exams (25% each of two)50%
Final exam30%

Honor Code

It goes without saying that you are on your honor to play fair and not cheat. And as future engineers, you will find that cheating never works, and people who cheat end up falling behind one way or another eventually. Espcially in engineering! Anyway I don't expect any of you will be dishonest, but I have to pass along the following:

The University of Maryland 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. I will ask you to sign the Honor Pledge on exams; I will not ask you to sign it on each homework assignment, but it should be understood that the Honor Code still applies. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. Violations will be taken very seriously and may result in an XF grade for the course and possible suspension. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit the following website

Student Honor Council (


Working together with other students is part of the course; in fact, the tutorials and labs are specifically designed around teamwork. Working together to figure out the homework is also encouraged, but you must turn in your own work. Talking about how to work the problem is fine if it helps you to understand it better, but COPYING A SOLUTION IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. IF CAUGHT ENGAGING IN SUCH ACTIVITIES, YOU MAY BE REFERRED TO THE STUDENT HONOR COUNCIL.

Religious observances

If you need to miss class, a deadline, or an exam due to a religious observance, please notify me in advance, preferably at the beginning of the semester.

Students with disabilities and/or special needs

Accommodations will be provided to enable students with documented disabilities to participate fully in the course. Please discuss any needs with me at the beginning of the semester so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Students who are registered with DSS, and who are planning to take examinations at DSS facilities, are required to let me have the pertinent authorization forms in editable electronic format at least one week prior to each exam date.

Students with disabilities and/or special needs

Weather and emergency closures: If the University is closed due to inclement weather or some emergency situation on the scheduled date of an exam, then the exam will be given during the next class period when the University is open. If the University is closed on any non-exam day, including just before an exam, then the exam will still be given according to the original schedule. In these or other exceptional circumstances, I will attempt to send out information by email.

Course announcements by email and email usage

I will be sending important announcements to the class, specifically to each studentís email address, as reported to me by the UMEG system (which is an address that at some point you gave the campus). If you use some other email system, please make sure that mail sent to your address is successfully forwarded to the address you use most regularly. If you have a question, and you canít get to the TA or to my office hour, then you can send it to me via email. I will respond as soon as I can.

Copyright Protection of Course Materials

Unless indicated otherwise, any lecture handouts, exams, homework and exam solutions, and the lectures themselves (including audio and video recordings) are copyrighted by me and may not be distributed or reproduced for anything other than your personal use without my written permission.