Exams and Project, ME 2030, Spring 2014

The prelims and final exam are closed book, no notes, no calculators and inclusive (all material in all pre-requisite courses and all material up to the exam). Prelims are designed for completion in 90 minutes but will allow extra time to eliminate time pressure. No extra time on the final exam (University policy). All material from the lecture, sections, text, homework and labs can be on the prelims. Generally, Matlab commands that would give the desired solution will get full credit. Some categories below will be represented on the prelims and the final exam.  

1) A problem like a problem already on a prelim.
2) A problem like a homework problem.
3) A text problem from the book that was not assigned.
4) A sample problem from the book.
5) Conceptual material from the book.
6) Something related to one of the lectures, possibly not in the homework.

Exam tips
Here are some tips that are on the homework page and also mostly on the exam directions. There is no need to lose credit for not following these directions. So, after doing a problem check all of these things.

A. Free body diagrams.
   1) DRAW THEM!
   2) Cut them FREE, don't show things that aren't in the system (e.g., walls, floors).
   3) When making cuts get the right forces. Know Chapter 3.3 of the text.
       For every motion that is caused or prevented there is a force or moment.
       If the motion is free there is no force or moment.

B. For EVERY equation in every problem follow this check list every time:

4) If it's linear momentum ('force') or angular momentum ('moment') balance, the equation must be associated with a FBD you have drawn.

5) In any one equation, every term that is added to or equated with another is either vector or scalar. The whole equation is either exactly and precisely only a scalar equation or only a vector equation. If you intend something to be a vector it should have a hat or arrow on top, or a line underneath. If you don't, it shouldn't.

 a) A scalar equation is made up of a sum of scalars on both sides of the equation (thus, every added term has no hats or arrows on top, or it has dot products of  two vectors).

 b) A vector equation has sums of vectors on both sides. It's all vectors. Thus every additive term on both sides of the equation has exactly one term with an arrow or hat on top (or two if they are crossed, or three, where two of them are made scalar by a dot product).

 c) If you are going back through equations and putting hats and arrows on top to satisfy the rules above, you are probably doing it wrong. Rather, as you work it should be perfectly clear in your mind, as you write every symbol, whether it is vector or scalar, and it should be notated as such as you write.

6) In any one equation every term that is added or equated on both sides of the equation has exactly the same units as all the others (you can't add apples and hammers). So, use dimensional consistency to help you find errors. (e.g., if your answer has an expression like "L + 7" and L is a length then you know your answer is wrong).

7) Have variables and directions been defined? You need a clear sketch showing lengths, angles, directions, distances. Similarly scalars with dimensions of force or moment need to be defined in terms of the unit vectors they multiply (shown, say, as a clear arrow on a free body diagram).

8) A variable cannot change its meaning in the middle of a calculation! (e.g., F cannot be both the force to the right and the force to the left at point A on one object).

C. Make sketches large and neat (don't crowd your confusion into a small space).

Homework exam: If you can do all the homework you are guaranteed a grade of at least C via the optional homework exam on Friday May 9, 1 pm - 5 PM, Thurston 2nd floor. On it will be 4 problems which will be homework problems, or parts of homework problems, with slight changes so that memorizing answers won't help. If you can do 3 of them correctly (good work, correct answer) in 4 hours you are guaranteed a grade of at least C for the whole course. Otherwise this exam does not help nor hurt your course grade. Email permission request to the head TA, after Prelim 3 and before May 2, required to take this exam.

Warning: In the past, very few students who said "I can do the homework, I just can't do the exams" could actually do the homework. This might follow from not following the advice in the first 3 sentences of the "study advice" on the homework page and in the preface ("To the student") of the Ruina/Pratap book.

Prelim Schedule

Prelim 1: 3 problems. , 7:30 - 9PM+, Thurs Feb 27, 2014,  Olin 155, exam, solution

Prelim 2:
3 problems. 7:30 - 9PM+,   Thurs March 20, 2014, Olin 155, exam, solution,

Prelim 3: 3 problems. 7:30 - 9PM+,   Tues April 22, 2014, Olin 155. exam, solution.

Early makeup prelims for those with conflicts:
4:30 PM, same day, with prior email permission from the head TA.You must stay in the exam room from 4:30 until 7:30, bring food (we will give you a note excusing you for lateness to your next test). 2nd floor of Thurston.

Makeup prelim: For students who missed both a prelim and its early makeup, there will be a comprehensive makeup exam on Friday May 9, 9:00-10:30am+, Thurston 2nd floor. This one exam (same exam for those who missed prelim 1 as for those who missed prelim 2 or 3) covers all the material in the course through to the lecture of Tuesday May 6. This time is technically illegal, so is optional. You can also take this exam on the last day of final exams in the last exam time. Please let your TA know if this is your plan.

Regrades: If you think one of your prelims was graded inappropriately:  1) Don't write anything on your exam booklet. 2) Make sure you know how to do the problem correctly. 3) Show your issue to a TA or Prof in the course to see if they think you might have a point.  4) Write an essay about why you should get more points, if it helps mark up a photocopy of your work.  5) Give your book with the essay to your TA.

Final Exam (comprehensive): 5 problems. TBD. No extra time. On average the questons will be no longer than the problems on the prelims. No makeup or early makeup is planned. If you have a conflict please let us know the course name and number and the professor's name. If it is a smaller course, and has no makeup planned, we will work out a makeup exam for you on the last day of exams.

EXTRA CREDIT PROJECTS. It could be an experiment that you make up, perform and analyze or a calculation or something else related to this course. It could be an improvement on the course homework solutions (or filling in missing ones). You may work alone or in a small group. One great project report can count for as much as one prelim/exam question. Two reports maximum. Your earlier reports may be improved, with increased grade, based on feedback from course staff. Make a proposal and discuss it with Andy Ruina. Final reports due by the end of the third day after the final exam.

Some project guidelines:

1) When you finally hand it in, put all files in a folder named after you and email it to Andy Ruina.
2) It is fine if drawings, equations, and text are hand done and scanned.
3) If appropriate include Matlab m files that function, videos, etc.
4) Your project needs to be self contained. A student taking the course, say, next year should be able to pick it up and understand your question, your answer and your method.
5) Please read this essay so you get the right idea about cover pages, citations, etc. If you make your project so it clearly doesn't suffer from the things mentioned in this essay, then you are pretty well off.
6) You have a much higher chance of getting a good grade if you discuss the project with Andy well before you do it, and if you redo it after you have got some feedback.