Peter J Wilcoxen > PHY 498 Capstone Seminar in Energy and Its Impacts

General Information, Textbook and Requirements

Fall 2016

General information that you may need at the beginning of the semester.

Contact Information

Peter Saulson
Office: 263-4 Physics 
Office Hours: By appointment; email to set one up. 
Email: psaulson at 
Peter Wilcoxen
Office: 426 Eggers 
Office Hours: Mon and Wed, 10-11:30, or by appointment. 
Email: wilcoxen at 

Course Meetings

Thursdays 9:30-10:50 in Physics 203.

Required Reading

No required textbook. Required readings will consist of selected articles assigned during the course of the semester.

Learning Outcomes

Through this course you will learn how to examine energy-related issues from the full range of relevant perspectives. You will practice interdisciplinary teamwork and produce an in-depth professional-quality evaluation of an energy-related project, problem, or business proposal.

Course Requirements

This course focuses on applying interdisciplinary analyis to develop pragmatic solutions to concrete, real-world energy problems.  Students will work in interdisciplinary teams to address issues arising in the Syracuse community or central New York region.  The first few weeks of the semester will be devoted to development and refinement of term project proposals. The remainder of the semester will consist of weekly progress reports from the teams, along with the milestones discussed below. Grades will be based on quality of the interim progress reports and the final presentation and written report.  Attendance is expected at all class meetings. 

Term Project

The term project will be carried out in a series of stages and will involve the following assignments or "milestones":

Primary and Alternate Proposals

Due 9/15.  The team will be responsible for submitting two (2) preliminary project proposals.  One should be the primary project the team would like to carry out, and one should be an alternate, second-choice, project the team would carry out if the first project fails its feasibility assessment (below) or runs into other serious obstacles.

Each preliminary project proposal should be 1-2 single spaced pages.  It should be an executive summary of the project indicating: (1) the title of the project,  (2) a brief explanation of the problem the project addresses and why it is important, (3) a short explanation of the proposed solution; (4) a discussion of the key data that will be needed and how it will be obtained.

Feasibility Assessments

Due 9/29.  The team will submit feasibility assessments of the primary and alternate project proposals.  The contents and structure of a feasiblity assessment will be described in detail in a handout in class.

Draft Presentations

Due 11/10 with revised presentation on 11/17.  On 11/10, the team will submit a complete presentation (PowerPoint or Prezi) and will present it to the class.  Thet team will prepare and present a revised presentation on 11/17.

Final Presentation

Week of 12/8. Date to be determined depending on availability of outside participants.

Academic Integrity

Complete academic honesty is expected of all students. Any incidence of academic dishonesty, as defined by the SU Academic Integrity Policy. will result in both course sanctions and formal notification of the College of Arts & Sciences. In this course, students are allowed and encouraged to work together to help in learning, but all assignments turned in must be the work of the individual student and may not be copied from another student’s work, the assigned readings, or any other source, except for short quotations with proper attribution.


Accommodations can be made in exams and assignments for students with disabilities. If you believe you need accommodations, please contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as soon as possible. ODS will help you with the University procedure for arranging appropriate accommodations for all of your classes.

Religious Observances

Under SU’s religious observances policy, classes meet at their regularly scheduled times on religious holidays. However, you have an opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirements that may be missed due to a religious observance as long as you notify your instructors before the end of the second week of classes. To make the process as easy as possible, an online notification system is available through MySlice/Student Services/Enrollment/My Religious Observances from the first day of class until the end of the second week of class.  If you prefer, however, you can notify me directly by email.  In either case, just check with me and we'll work out an arrangement that fits your schedule.

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Peter J Wilcoxen, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 08/31/2016