MAE 4730 COMBINED-COMEET Intermediate Dynamics (2020FA)

MAE 4730 COMBINED-COMEET Intermediate Dynamics (2020FA)

General Information will be here,  or on Piazza.
Professor: Andy Ruina
TAs: Juan Berrio (jgb249) & Michael Buche
Lectures: MWF 10:20 - 11:10. Room TBD. Mostly online.  Click on Zoom (menu list at left. Password: dynamics)
Office Hours: (Online, at the course zoom link.) 

  • Andy Ruina:         listed on his homepage
  • Michael Buche:   listed on his homepage
  • Juan Berrio:         Thursday 3-5 PM, Friday 7-9 PM. 

Work together? The course zoom link is always open. Think of it as a study room. Go there and hang out.  Even if you are alone, someone may show up. Or, post on Piazza that you are there.   If you know a better scheme for enabling students to work together, let us know. 

GroupMe: There is a group chat you can join on groupme to more easily talk to other students about homework and coordinate meetings to study and work on homework together over Zoom. Here is the Link.

Questions or comments? Post them on Piazza. You would be surprised how many people also have your seemingly unique and obscure question. You can post anonymously, if appropriate.  Use email for emergencies.



  • MAE 2030 (Engineering Dynamics for sophomores), or equivalent.

  • MATLAB. You need to be comfortable with Matlab already, or get up to speed quickly. How? Do all the tutorials in Pratap's book, or equivalent. Then use that book, or another, or google, for help with other things you need. You get to the skills you need  the same way you get to Carnegie Hall.

    • Matlab tutorial for those with no Matlab background:  Saturday, Sept 5:  11 AM - 1 PM. Use course Zoom link.
  • System Dynamics, MAE 3260, is not a prerequisite nor a corequisite for this class, it is listed to indicate a general level of mathematical sophistication.

Homework Due Fridays, at midnight. Peer grading of HW due Monday at midnight. Directions for peer grading will be posted.   After the first week, you will have at least 6 days from when the assignment is given until it is due. 


Course Components and Grades.
Assume all components scaled to about the same mean or maximum.

  • Exams, about 60%. Keeping 9 or 10 best of the 11 prelim and final exam questions. All exams are closed book, closed notes. 

    • Prelims:

      • 1) Thu 08 Oct 07:30 PM Kennedy 116 , 3 problems
      • 2) Sun 08 Nov 04:00 PM Statler 185, 3 problems
    • Final exam: date TBD, 5 problems
  • Final project, about 20%: (includes your oral response to questions about your project);
  • Homework, about 20%: (after dropping the lowest few  scores).

The median student, in both courses, will get a B or a B+ (to be determined). Those in 4730 will get bonus points so that they can get an equal course grade while still not doing as well on some of the difficult parts.

If we perceive that you have attended every lecture, taken all exams without giving up, do the final project, and spend at least 6 hours each week doing HW you are guaranteed a grade of at least B-. If you can do all of the homework yourself, without help, you will probably get a B+ or better.  If, additionally, you can reproduce all of the theory from the lectures and extend it slightly, you will probably get at least an A.

Read more of Andy's thoughts about grading, posted on the world wide web, here.

And, here is the grading scheme for a large course where laying out the exact letter of the law helps relieve some student anxiety.



Homework will usually be due Fridays at 11:59 pm. The homework that is submitted will make up the majority of the homework grade of each student. The rest will be determined by how well they grade their peers (see Peer Grading below). Students will submit the following.

  • .zip folder will contain the following
    • PDF, which contains all information:
      • Scanned written work
      • Necessary plots
      • Code (so graders can leave comments/marks in specific places in it)
    • All .m files written for the homework (code)
    • A readme file briefly explaining how to run their code
  • After homework due date, students will have 3 days to peer grade (due Monday 11:59 pm).


Peer "Grading"

Each student will critique the homework submitted by one of their peers each week. You will receive a peer grading grade correlating to how well you critique your  peers.  


  • Leave many comments in the homework PDF, pointing out things that are wrong, unclear, incomplete, interesting, brilliant, ideas for improvement, etc. 
    • Download the PDF, leave notes/marks on it, re-upload it as an attachment in a comment on Canvas.
  • Leave one large comment answering the following
    • Overall what is your impression of the homework, point out key things that are good  and things that should be improved. 
    • You can leave this large comment on Canvas. You can also attach it as the first page you the marked-up PDF you upload as well if you want.
  • Answer these questions
    • Were FBDs always used when needed, and always clear?
    • Was vector notation and calculation always clear and grammatically correct (within the grammar of vectors, e.g.,  vector = scalar => bad)?
    • Were principles stated general form before being used in the  particular form needed for the problem at hand?
    • For Matlab plots, were all the homework preamble rules followed (e.g., axis labeled and clear, 'axis equal' when appropriate).
    • Overall, was the work clear and convincing? (see the homework preamble)
    • Assume this student had infinite time, what would they have to do more of, or differently, to convince you that you could 99% trust their work? 


Suggested Reading


Additional Resources

There are solutions for the homework problems assigned in previous versions of the course. These solutions were written by the students who took the course before and are by no means perfect.  This semester, two students have volunteered to share their notes with the class. There are also notes from previous semesters as well. All of this can be accessed here.


What was the course like in the past?

Fall 2012 4735/5735  
Fall 2014 4730/5730
Fall 2015 4730/5730
Fall 2016 4730/5730
Fall 2017 4730/5730
Fall 2018 4730/5730