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During years one and two, students enroll in ISAT Foundation courses. The Foundations suite of courses forms the broad base of technical, scientific, and social scientific knowledge that is a hallmark of ISAT students and graduates.  Three main course sequences compose ISAT Foundations:

  • Issues in Science and Technology: This sequence of five courses (ISAT 112, 113, 211, 212, and 215) engages students in the practice of science, both to motivate and to provide an understanding of science and technology in the context of important current social issues. Current areas from which issues are selected are living systems, the environment, modern production, telecommunications, instrumentation, and energy.
  • Analytical Methods: This sequence of four courses (ISAT 151, 152, 251, and 252) provides students with basic methods and tools for understanding and analyzing problems in science and technology. Subjects are taught in an integrated manner with applications as the unifying factor. Topics include calculus, elements of the physical sciences, statistics, project management, the computer, and knowledge-based systems.
  • Social Context of Technology and Science: This two-course sequence (ISAT 171 and 271) introduces the student to the broader issues encountered in science and technology problem-solving, particularly social, ethical, economic and legal issues.

Together, this series of courses provides a broad and robust foundation for more topic-specific content in upper-division courses.  Taking the Foundations sequence also gives ISAT graduates the flexibility to change careers and gain expertise in new areas more easily than their peers.

Beginning in 2016, the ISAT Program added a Holistic Problem-Solving Spine to its curriculum. ISAT students now complete ISAT 190 (Introduction to ISAT) during their first year. Then they complete ISAT 290 (Systems Thinking) in their second year. In the first two courses (190 and 290), students learn and apply systems thinking methodology to investigate, define, and describe complex problems.

Issues in Science and Technology

The Issues courses form part of ISAT’s Foundations sequence, which provides the broad learning base upon which the rest of the curriculum is built.  The five Issues courses follow the ISAT philosophy by teaching important scientific concepts and content in the context of the real-world issues our society faces. 

  • Environmental Issues in Science and Technology (ISAT 112) teaches chemistry, biology, and statistics through an exploration of problems like climate change and acid rain. 
  • Biotechnology Issues in Science and Technology (ISAT 113) is a life sciences course that gives students the opportunity to do hands-on laboratory work and learn about challenges like genetic engineering and infectious diseases.

The two sophomore-level Issues courses focus more on the physical sciences. 

  • Modern Production Issues in Science & Technology (ISAT 211) introduces students to process controls, computer-based automation, and other fundamentals of manufacturing and product/process design. 
  • Energy Issues in Science and Technology (ISAT 212) teaches core scientific concepts in physics as they relate to energy production and use, including an exploration of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • Issues in Telecommunications, Networking, and Security (ISAT 215) introduces concepts in telecommunications security. Students study the design and implementation of wireless and wireline networks and services. 

Taken together, the Issues courses provide ISAT majors with a solid foundation in important scientific and technological concepts, introduce them to some of the key issues in today’s society, and provide a preview of some of the strategic sectors that ISAT majors pursue during their junior year.

Social Context of Technology and Science

The ISAT program focuses on the use of science and technology to solve human problems.  Social context refers to any of a variety of issues – political, economic, sociological, regulatory/legal, and cultural – that arise when applying science and technology to the solution of real-world problems. 

Knowledge of the social context is an essential tool for practicing technologists and managers because purely technical solutions almost never wholly solve the problems that they face in their daily work.  Thus, social context courses provide very practical information that enables ISAT graduates to excel after graduation. 

Studying social context also raises broader questions about the appropriate role of science and technology in our society.  It challenges students to think critically about the decisions we make about science and technology policy, appropriate use of technology, ethics, the nature of scientific and technological knowledge, and the challenges posed by the rapid evolution of science and technology in the context of a shrinking globe. 

The social context curriculum, therefore, seeks not only to help guide students through the social context in which science and technology emerge and are applied, but also to challenge society’s norms, values, and preconceptions as well.

As Freshman and Sophomores, all students majoring in ISAT take a sequence of two Social Context courses: 

  • Governance of Socio-Technical Systems (ISAT 171) 
  • Technology, Science, and Society (ISAT 271) 
Analytical Methods

Analytical Methods are four courses in applied mathematics, physics, and computer programming that are part of a foundational sequence of courses that all ISAT majors take during their first two years.  Each of the courses has a laboratory component where students investigate real-world applications of concepts learned in the classroom.  Courses incorporate applications and problems from all of the ISAT sectors that ISAT majors pursue during their junior year. Courses include

  • Topics in Applied Calculus in ISAT (ISAT 151) 
  • Topics in Applied Physics in ISAT (ISAT 152) 
  • Topics in Applied Statistics in ISAT (ISAT 251)
  • Programming and Problem Solving (ISAT 252)

In addition to the above-listed courses, ISAT 150 Algebra Essentials is a course for students who require additional experience or review of algebra concepts.  For students who have successfully completed calculus for AP credit or at another institution, the laboratory-only component of ISAT 151, ISAT 151L, is required.  ISAT 151L provides computer proficiency in modeling real-world problems using calculus and Microsoft Excel.

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