FAQ for MEAM 517 in Fall 2020

Last updated 8/27/2020

As the fall semester approaches, many students are understandably concerned about how the changes due to COVID-19 will effect instruction. This page will attempt to answer questions specifically related to MEAM 517:  Control and Optimization with Applications in Robotics.

-Michael Posa

  • Q: What format will be used for the lectures?
    A: Lectures and office hours will be held fully online. Lectures will be delivered live via Zoom, during the regular class period, and then uploaded for offline viewing.
  • Q: Is the course synchronous or asynchronous?
    Officially, “synchronous.” However, only a small portion of the course requires live participation. All lectures will be recorded and uploaded, with participation recommended but not required. The only exam, a midterm, will be given as a take-home over a period of 24 hours. There are, however, three “live” events during the semester:
    1. Project pitch presentations 11/2
    2. Project presentations 12/7 and 12/9
    3. Literature review presentation (group-specific date)
  • Q: Is there a lab component?
    A: No, the class does not have a lab component. The final 1/3 of the semester is dedicated toward final projects. Most students complete their final project in a simulation environment of their choosing.
  • Q: Will I be better off taking MEAM 517 next year?
    A: I cannot say for sure. Undoubtedly moving to remote education will have adverse effects, but I believe the format for the class should transfer well to an online format.
    A: (Update) Please note that MEAM 517 is not likely to be offered during the 2021-2022 academic year.
  • Q: The course is currently closed. How can I enroll for the class?
    A: If you are a current Penn student, please email Lauren Kemp, MEAM Undergraduate Coordinator, for a permit.
  • Q: What are the pre-requisites?
    A: Functional skills in MATLAB, Python, or another programming language. Previous incarnations of 517 have used MATLAB, but I expect to switch to Python this year. Basic knowledge of the following subjects will be assumed:
    • Controls/robotics (e.g. MEAM 513/ESE505, ESE 500, MEAM 520, or equivalent).
    • Linear algebra (e.g. MATH 312 or equivalent)
    • Dynamics (e.g. MEAM 211 or equivalent)