The world today faces many complicated challenges, consider for example the UN Sustainable Development goals. Technology has always been an essential tool for humankind to make progress, but now more than ever it is vital that technology is used wisely.
Unlike more traditional engineering programs, at UCR we connect engineering disciplines with all of the other disciplines UCR has on offer. In addition to technology-related courses, engineering majors are encouraged (and to an extent required) to take courses in other departments. Whether it is ethics, social psychology, political science or earth science, students will learn different ways of seeing and analyzing the world. Interdisciplinary collaboration is the future and for that reason it is not only important that engineers understand technology, it’s important they understand people as well.
Another special aspect of our program is our location. Middelburg and its surroundings directly experience a range of global challenges and local organizations are addressing these issue. For example: our region is below sea level so water security is historically of great importance, local companies are in the process of building large off-shore wind parks, we are close to the largest Dutch national park with a unique maritime ecosystem that is carefully monitored. UCR engineering and local organizations, companies and research facilities are committed to working together to give student experiences in addressing these issues.
In designing the engineering program, our focus in on asking students to create ‘small-scale sustainable solutions’. Small-scale products can be designed, tested and implemented relatively quickly, so students can go beyond basic prototyping. Modern technology allows small products to be highly functional and create a lot of impact. Products should be sustainable in the sense that little or no waste or pollution is created during production, use and decommissioning. Of course it is not always possible to achieve all these goals, but a modern engineer should certainly try!
Starting in Fall 2019 a small pioneering group followed the first engineering courses. Read about their experience here.
Data science is the study of the generalizable extraction of knowledge from data. It covers the entire pipeline from data acquisition, cleanup, and algorithmic analysis to meaningful visualization of the results. Data science combines insights from statistics, mathematics, computing science, and information science, and has applications in virtually all domains. Modern autonomous robots working outside a structured factory environment must plan their actions based on incomplete and imprecise models of the world around them. Most robots use vision systems to collect data for these models. Computer vision helps them to extract structural information about the objects from collected image data.
Courses in this Track
- 100-level: Introduction to Data Science
- 200-level: Machine Learning
- 200-level: Computer Vision
- 300-level: Robotics
- 300-level: Topics in Data Science
100-level: Introduction to Data Science
Data science is the science of extracting meaningful information from data. In this course, students develop the foundational abilities in data visualization and data wrangling (i.e. data cleaning and manipulation). Next to traditional data coming in the form of two-dimensional tables, we explore non-traditional data types (e.g., spatial, text, network) and interactive data graphics. The course includes much hands-on work (labs, projects) with example datasets coming from sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities.
200-level: Machine Learning
The course provides an overview of the field of statistical learning. It presents some of the most important modeling and prediction techniques, along with relevant applications. Topics include linear regression, classification, resampling methods, shrinkage approaches, tree-based methods, support vector machines, clustering, and more. Real-world examples are used to illustrate the methods presented.
200-level: Computer Vision
Computer vision deals with extracting high-level structural understanding from image and video data. As such, it is closely related to data science. The course covers the processing of image data to turn images into better images, and the analysis of image data to gain structural information. Students learn about image models, color spaces, linear, non-linear, and morphological filters, and basic image processing tasks such as edge and curve detection and automatic thresholding. They also about classification, detection and optical flow, and how to combine different views into a three-dimensional reconstruction.
Robotics is an interdisciplinary area in engineering and science that brings together mechanical and electrical engineering, computing and information science, artificial intelligence, and other fields. Robots should be autonomous: they must be able to perform their tasks with as little external influence as possible. This course focuses on some of the most common technical abilities an autonomous robot must possess. Such a robot should be able to maneuver safely without colliding with the obstacles in its workspace and to manipulate certain target objects in the workspace. The course discusses the motion planning problem, its formulation in configuration space, and approaches to solving the problem. We consider forward and inverse kinematics for articulated structures such as robotic arms to establish relations between joint angles and the position and orientation of the hand or end-effector. We also focus on models for firm and loose grasps of objects and on non-prehensile forms of manipulation.
Electronics track provide students with solid foundations in core concepts in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Students learn about the electrical components, circuits, systems as well as analysis techniques and numerical methods that are relevant to electronic and computing technologies. The courses and projects provide students with computational skills using common tools such as Mathematica, MATLAB, Python, and C# as well as PSPICE. In addition to studying the fundamentals of conventional analog and digital technologies, students also apply these foundations to the analysis of emerging electronic systems and their novel applications in computation. The track courses provide students with experience in developing small-scale high-tech solutions ranging from electronic sensors that can be used to develop sustainable solutions to climate crisis to more abstract quantum electronics technologies.
Courses in this Track
- 100-level: Basic Electronics & Circuits
- 200-level: Control Theory
- 300-level: Signals & Systems
100-level: Basic Electronics & Circuits
Students learn about fundamental relations and circuit analysis methods (e.g. Ohm’s law, Kirchoff’s laws, nodal, mesh, superposition), and learn about direct- and alternating-current (DC/AC), and time dependent analysis of circuit systems. They also learn about basic formal logic and Boolean algebra, logic networks and their simplification. They analyse logic (AND, OR, NOT) gates, and study combinatorial and sequential circuits.
200-level: Control Theory
Students are introduced how control systems are set up and how their performance is optimized. They model feedback control systems using difference equations, mathematically and numerically study unstable systems. The course also focuses on how to measure control system performance and how proportional, delta (derivative) and summation (integral) feedback reduce tracking errors and increase disturbance rejection.
300-level: Signals and Systems
The concepts of signals and systems appear in a variety of fields. The physical nature of signals and the measurement systems may differ between applications, but they have in common that signals contain information about the observed phenomenon. The systems respond to signals by producing other signals or certain behavior as output. This course discusses how to characterize a linear time-invariant system and how it will respond to various inputs; convolution, Fourier series representation, Fourier transform, Laplace transform and Z-transform and their properties are the main topics.
Energy and flow will give you core courses on sustainable forms of Energy, including electricity generation, heat and transportation – on land, on sea and in the boundaries between the two. Being at a liberal arts and science collage and the inherently interdisciplinary nature of our program will enable you to look into even more aspects of Energy, from environmental legislation and environmental impact assessment to social implications. Explore how you can help shape a better future by studying Energy Systems at UCR.
Courses in this Track
- 100-level: Thermodynamics
- 200-level: Transport Phenomena
- 300-level: Renewable Energy Systems
This course defines and applies the first and second law thermodynamics using state functions like energy, enthalpy and entropy. A variety of thermodynamic cycles including Carnot, Diesel, Otto, and Rankine are discussed.
Many practical applications of thermodynamics are reviewed throughout the course. These include heat engines, combustion engines, turbines, heat pumps and cooling systems.
By the end of the course students combine their insights in thermodynamic processes by optimizing the design of a heat pump for a given purpose with regard to cost, environmental impact or other criteria.
200-level: Transport Phenomena
Transport Phenomena is a key scientific subject supporting branches of engineering, agriculture, meteorology, medicine, and environmental studies, and a core competence in chemical engineering and applied physics. It deals with transport of momentum (fluid mechanics), of energy (heat transfer), and of mass (transfer of chemical species). Luckily there are ‘conservation laws’a for the three entities being transported that enable analogues descriptions of the various transport processes. Of particular importance are the transport coefficients—viscosity (for transport of momentum), thermal conductivity (for transport of energy), and diffusivity (for transport of chemical species).
300-level: Renewable Energy Systems
This course aims to provide the students with an overview over Renewable Energy resources and to introduce them to current and emerging technologies to exploit those resources. The course introduces available or projected technologies for generation of electricity or to satisfy primary energy demand from renewable resources and place these technologies in context with environmental, political and economic constraints with a focus on local applications and cooperation with local industry.
The accumulation of waste in the world necessitates a strong action of sustainable materials. In this track you will learn about the properties of materials and how they depend on material composition and structure. From that starting point you will learn about the properties of materials and how they depend on their physical/chemical structure, how to process new biobased/-degradable materials into products and how they can be used for a more sustainable future.
Courses in this Track
- 100-level: Structures & Properties
- 200-level: Continuum Mechanics
- 300-level: Future Materials
100-level: Structures & Properties
In this course we will discuss how the underlying structure of the materials that make up our modern world influences the properties and performance of these materials, to enable you to choose the best material for a particular application. To make an informed choice, we will discuss material properties: is it hard, soft, stiff, elastic, tough, brittle or ductile? How does the material react to stress and strain? How and when will it fail? Will it bend, buckle or break? But also: do we want it to bend, buckle or break?
200-level: Continuum Mechanics
This course will explore the functionality, strength and reliability of mechanical components, products or devices and how they are controlled by the deformations or loads imposed on them. Deformations are caused by the (external) loads, giving rise to stresses within the material. In Structures and Properties (100) we explored the phenomena in 2D, now we are extending it to include all three dimensions, so vectors and tensors will be applied. You will also be introduced to on how to use simulation to solve complex problems ( we will used the finite element method – FEM).
300-level: Future Materials
Future Materials Processing will extend the previous concepts to include fluids and non-linear elasticity. Hyper-elasticity is a topic closely related to bio mechanics and artificial muscle tissue. After completing our theoretical frame work, the second part of the module will comprise of a series of student led seminars discussing new developments and possible applications for new materials with regards to requirements for applications in different engineering disciplines from bio-mechanics or civil engineering to electrical engineering to name but a few.
In this track students cooperate in teams to solve challenges/design products related to the UN global sustainability goals with a strong focus on energy, food, water and materials. Students from all departments are encouraged to participate. The projects provide students the option to apply knowledge in a practical environment, to learn how to cooperate in an interdisciplinary group and to create product solutions to societal challenges.
- 100-level: Energy Transition
- 100-level: Sensing Systems for Sustainability
- 200-level: Consumer Product Design
- 300-level: Research in a Sustainable Delta
100-level: Energy Transition
Project based learning course; students work in groups to design, realize, test and evaluate a significant and innovative product in the context of “Energy Transitions – Technology Solutions for Sustainability”. The product needs to be developed to the level of a tangible, technical prototype, aiming for a sustainable solution to an identified problem. Examples are designing a smart grid, mimicking birds wings for new turbine blades, new sustainable food sources… The only restriction is that the project cannot be the same as an executed project from previous project courses.
100-level: Sensing Systems for Sustainability
This hands-on project course allows students to develop Arduino-microcontroller-based sensing systems that are designed to assess water, air, and soil quality. In the first half of the course, students design and build prototypes, and in the second half, they go out to the field to make measurements. The course provides students with an experience in building data acquisition systems, as well as collecting and analyzing the data, illustrating a use of sensing systems for sustainability applications.
200-level: Consumer Product Design
You will learn how to function in a ‘real-world’ (often industrial) design and development (d&d) team for consumer products. We will go through the phases of d&d: probe customer needs, translate these into a product concept, develop a fabrication method, analyze sustainability, analyze costs and proceeds. D&d involves interviewing customers, brain-storming, laboratory experiments, quantitative modeling, constructing a prototype, considering protection of intellectual property etc. Hence, the course may be interesting for students of e.g. social sciences, arts and/or law, as well as for engineering students.
300-level: Research in a Sustainable Delta
You will work in small teams of about three students on a research problem relevant for the Zeeland Delta. The work should support sustainability in the widest sense. We are looking for collaborations with local companies and other institutions. E.g. the research topic may have been supplied by a Zeeland based institution, and elaborated in collaboration, e.g. by making use of expertise and/or facilities of that external partner.