Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
CMET 111
Course Title:
Portland Design: Brews, Bridges and Bikes
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Enhances appreciation for design and engineering through the prism of three design topics that Portland is known for: coffee, bridges and bikes. Focuses on €˜back of the envelope€™ engineering, problem solving, making and building, and professional skills and teamwork. Covers trigonometry and scientific calculator operations. Introduces the engineering technician profession and engineering ethics. Includes time in the MakerSpace, CMET labs and field trips. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This course is required for all students in the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology program. Full-time students will generally take this course in their first term of the program.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. Solve trigonometry problems, perform €˜back of the envelope€™ calculations and advanced calculator operations.
  2. Design and make objects/structures in small groups with individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds.
  3. Describe several roles of engineers and engineering technicians, including types of work, employers, and educational and licensing requirements.
  4. Describe and discuss ethical conduct of an engineer or engineering technician.
  5. Analyze forces on rigid bodies in equilibrium.
  6. Communicate analysis and results clearly: orally, in writing, and through diagrams and calculations.

Course Activities and Design

Course Activities for Brews (coffee): Take a coffee maker apart and put it back together.  Lectures regarding chemistry of coffee.  Measure the acidity (pH) and turbidity of different types of coffee in the CMET lab.  Visit a Portland coffee roaster.

Course Activities for Bridges: Design competition in small groups to elevate marshmallow with spaghetti.  Lecture on equilibrium, counter-weights, the power of triangles in trusses and basic bridge physics.  3-D print bridge connectors and design and assemble bridges in the MakerSpace.  Visit downtown Portland bridges (Hawthorne Bridge, Morrison Bridge and the Tilikum Crossing) on bridge tours.

Course Activities for Bikes:  Lecture on the power of triangles in trusses, simple machines and power, torque and rotational speed.  Compare different bike materials in the CMET lab.  Visit to a Portland bike fabricator.

The lecture portion of the class will consist of the introduction of the trigonometry, scientific calculator operations, introduction to the engineering profession and engineering ethics.  The lab portion will consist of engaged, engineering problem solving in small groups.  The lab portion will also consist of time in The MakerSpace and the CMET lab.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Individual, small group, and full class discussion; homework problems; examinations; and small group problem-solving sessions and projects may be used to assess outcomes.
Lecture, homework, and in-class group activities will be coordinated.
Specific evaluation procedures will be defined during the first week of class. In general, grading will depend on weekly tests, homework, class participation, projects and a comprehensive final exam.

Students will be given a survey at the beginning regarding their understanding of various topics and themes covered in the course.  Students will be given the same survey at the end of the course to assess their progress.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  1. Engineering is a very broad field, with many types of tasks, employers and job descriptions.
  2. Engineers and engineering technicians must work in a professional, ethical manner.
  3. Analysis of an engineering problem begins with a simplified model of the actual situation.
  4. A large complex problem consists of many inter-related smaller problems which must be solved in a logical order.
  5. Solution of an engineering problem in not useful unless communicated clearly and completely.
  6. A complete and correct free-body diagram is necessary for analysis of any equilibrium problem.
  7. There is often more than one correct approach to the solution of an engineering problem. Sharing ideas with others will often lead to the most efficient or clearest solution.


  1. MakerSpace (3-D printing and laser cutting) and CMET lab skills.
  2. Equilibrium, counter-weights, simple bridge physics.
  3. Engineering approximation and problem solving.
  4. Introduction to the engineering profession: types of work, employers, and educational and licensing requirements.
  5. Roles of engineers and engineering technicians.
  6. Engineering ethics.
  7. Resources available to PCC engineering students: department academic advising, counseling, financial aid, scholarships, tutors, mentors, other college-wide resources.
  8. Study skills and strategies.
  9. Presentation of engineering analysis and calculations.
  10. Measurements: systems of units, dimensional analysis.
  11. Critical thinking and problem-solving: use of models, inductive and deductive reasoning, conceptual roadblocks in problem-solving.
  12. Trigonometry: definitions of trigonometric functions, solving right triangles and oblique triangles.
  13. Calculator operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, powers and roots, trigonometric functions, scientific notation, solution of simultaneous equations, vector algebra operations. Other features of the specific required calculator.
  14. Solving statics problems:
    1. Vector operations
    2. Equilibrium of a particle
    3. Equilibrium of a rigid body
    4. Analysis of structures
    5. Centroids and centers of gravity


The student will be able to:

1.      Describe the roles of engineers and engineering technicians in the workplace.

2.      Draw a free-body diagram of an object, group of connected objects, or part of an object.

3.      Calculate the support reactions on a two or three-dimensional rigid body.

4.      Calculate the forces exerted on one member of a structure by another.

5.      Use a scientific calculator to solve algebraic and trigonometric equations.

6.      Communicate analysis and results clearly: orally, in writing, and through diagrams and calculations.