Enginering Physics I

Welcome to the Enginering Physics I course, PHY 303K. This page describes the section taught by Professor Vadim Kaplunovsky in Fall of 1999 (unique #55540). Other sections should have their own web pages.

General Information

Professor Vadim Kaplunovsky.
  • Reserved office hour: Mondays, 2 to 3 PM, in RLM 9.304
  • Other office hours (I am likely to be in my office and available, but no guarantees): Mondays, 3 to 4 and 5 to 6PM, Wednesdays and Fridays, 2:30 to 6 PM.
  • Phone: 471-7773
  • Email: vadim@physics.utexas.edu
  • TA:
    Wenjun Li.
  • Email: liwj@physics.utexas.edu.
  • Lectures:
    On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, noon to 1PM, in Painter hall PAI 2.48.
  • Attendance is mandatory.
  • There will be 10-minute pop-quizes during some lectures. To encourage attendance of all lectures, I will not announce pop-quizes in advance.
  • Disruption of lectures will not be tolerated. Persistent or egregious disruptiveness will lower your grade (possibly, all the way to F).
  • Tutorial (TA) sessions:
    One hour a week. All registered students must sign up for one of the eleven sessions available. Attendence of the tutorial sessions is mandatory.
    Review sessions:
  • Pre-exam Review of chapters 1, 2 and 3: On September 13 (Mon), from 6 to 7:30 PM, in the regular classroom.
  • Pre-exam Review of chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7: On October 11 (Mon), from 6 to 7:30 PM, in the regular classroom.
  • Pre-exam Review of chapters 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12: On November 8 (Mon), from 6 to 7:30 PM, in the regular classroom.
  • Pre-exam Review of chapters 13, 16, 17 and 18: On November 30 (Tue), from 6 to 7:30 PM, in ECJ building, room 1.204.
    This review may be cancelled at the last moment because of Prof. Kaplunovsky's illness. The students are advised to attend Prof. Chiu's pre-exam review instead, which will be held on Monday, November 29, from 5 to 6 PM, in the auditorium in the RLM building (ground floor).
    Latest news: This Review is cancelled.
  • Exams:

    There will be four quizes on Wednesday evenings during the semester and one comprehensive final exam at the end.

  • The quizes will be held on September 15, October 13, November 10 and December 1, in the Welch hall, room WEL 1.308.
  • Each quiz begins at 7PM sharp and ends at 8:30PM. To find your pre-assigned seat, please come to the exam fifteen minutes before it starts.
  • The final exam will be held on December 8 (Wednesday), from 7 to 10 PM (ouch), in the Art building (Museum), room ART 1.102.
  • Bring your student ID to each exam. To discourage cheating, we ID everybody.
  • Bring pencils and calculators to all exams, you will need them. Don't bring books or notes, you will not be allowed to use them during exams.
  • There will be no make-up exams for any reason whatsoever. If you miss one quiz, it will not affect your grade, but if you miss two or more quizes or miss the final exam, your grade will suffer.
    A student that is unable to take an exam because of illness or other bone fide emergency should notify the instructor as soon as possible; in such a case the instructor will decide on an appropriate remedy. There will be no remedy for students who missed an exam because they forgot or were mis-informed of its time or location, could not start their cars or park them on campus, had dead batteries in their calculators or their pencils eaten by dogs, or any other asinine excuses.

    No books or notes will be allowed during any of the exams. A formula sheet will be provided. To preview the formula sheet, click on a format of your choice: PostScript, PDF, TeX source or DVI.

    Many exam questions will require calculations. Make sure to bring a calculator to each exam. Before each exam, check your calculator and make sure it works and has good batteries; if it fails during the exam, you are SOL.

    The quizes and the final exam will be graded by the same computer that grades the homeworks. However, unlike the homeworks, the exams use bubble sheets for entering the students' answers. Please bring a pencil -- the bubble-sheet scanner does not read ink.
    Remember to bubble in everything you write down. Your bubble sheet should have your name, SSN and the version number of your exam pre-printed and bubbled in; make sure this information is correct or your test will not be graded!

    More exam-related information and advice is available at http://www.ph.utexas.edu/~vadim/Classes/99f/303K/Exams.html


    The main textbook for the Engineering Physics courses (both PHY 303K and 303L) is Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Serway and Beichner (5th edition). The older, 4th edition (by Serway) is a good substitute.

    In addition, the Tutorials in Introductory Physics by McDermott etal. (two booklets:Tutorials and Homework) are required for the course. The booklets will be available in a couple of weeks.

    Syllabus and Schedule

    The Engineering Physics courses 303K and 303L are introductory rather than comprehensive. Because of time shortage, some subjects will be skipped. In particular, the 303K course skips Thermodynamics and concentrates on Mechanics (except Gravity and Fluids) and Mechanical Waves. In textbook terms, the 303K course covers chapters 1 through 13 and 16 through 18.

    The detailed schedule of lectures, homeworks and exams is available at http://www.ph.utexas.edu/~itiq/303Kf99/init/syllabus.html.


    There will be two kinds of homework assignments in this course: twelve computer-graded sets of calculational problems and six human-graded sets of qualitative questions.

    To get yourself started on the computer-graded homeworks, read the student instructions at http://hw10.ph.utexas.edu/studentInstructions.html ASAP. Then register with the homework service (add your name to the computer's roster), download homework #1 and try to answer at least one question by the second class day.
    If you have difficulties dealing with the computer, ask the TA to help you; he knows the homework computer service better than the instructor!

    The human-graded homeworks are based on the Tutorials in Introductory Physics. The material covered by these homeworks will be reviewed during the tutorial sessions.

  • Assignement 1, due Tuesday, September 14 at 5 PM: Acceleration in One Dimension, set#3 of the Homework booklet. (Copies will be distributed in class on Friday, September 3.)
  • Assignement 2, due Tuesday, September 28 at 5 PM: Forces.
  • Assignement 3, due Tuesday, October 12 at 5 PM: Energy and momentum: Work and changes in kinetic energy.
  • Assignement 4, due Tuesday, October 26 at 5 PM: Energy and momentum: Conservation of momentum.
  • Assignement 5, due Tuesday, November 9 at 5 PM: Rotation: Rotational motion/Dynamics of rigid bodies.
  • Assignement 6, due Tuesday, November 23 at 5 PM: Superposition and reflection of pulses.
  • Grading Policy

    Original Policy

    The grades are based on the combined score compised of:

  • Ten percent (10%) of the average percentage score of the computer-graded homeworks. To allow for emegencies, two worst (or missing) homeworks are skipped and only the best ten are averaged.
  • Ten percent (10%) of the average percentage score of the human-graded homeworks. Again, the worst (or one missing) homework is skipped and only the best five are averaged.
  • Twelve percent (12%) of the average percentage score of the pop-quizes during the lectures. Two worst or missing pop-quizes are skipped, the rest are averaged.
  • Thirty six percent (36%) of the average percentage score of three best evening quizes. (Twelve percent for each quiz). The worst quiz or one missing quiz are ignored. If you miss two or more quizes, you are in trouble; there will be no substitute quizes.
  • Thirty two percent (32%) of the percentage score of the final exam.
  • To allow for unexpected difficulty or ease of the tests, I will wait for the final exam results before setting the brackets for the ABCDF letter grades in terms of the combined scores. In any case, a 90% or better score will earn an A, an 80% or better score will earn at least a B, 70% -- at least a C and 60% -- at least a D. Most likely however, the grading brackets will be more generous. Also, the students with good attendence records will be graded according to more lenient brackets than the students with poor attendence records.

    Policy Change

    Since the third evening quiz was irrepearably disrupted by the fire evacuation, I shall adjust the grading policy as follows:

  • Only two best quizes are counted for the grade; the other two are dropped from averaging (presumably, quiz#3 will be one of the two dropped quizes).
  • The average of the two best quizes counts as 30% of the combined score, so each good quiz counts as 15%.
  • The average of ten best computer-grades homeworks counts as 12% of the combined score. Likewise, the average of five best tutorial homeworks counts as 12%. No policy change with respect to the pop-quizes: you get to drop two, average of the rest counts as 12%.
  • The final exam counts as 34% of the combined score.
  • Final Grades

    For security reasons, your grades are no longer available on-line at this server.

    Ultimate grading algorithm and brackets

    Note: Slight change in algorithm on December 13. Consequently, a few marginal grades went up while most grades remain unchanged; no grades went down.

  • First, I calculated your combined Exam, Quiz, Homework, etc., score S as explained above.
  • Second, I adjusted the score for the tutorial attendence T(%fraction of sessions attended) accordint to the following formula:
    A=[S3 + (40%)3(T/100%)2 ]1/3
    Note that the adjustment is very small for high scores S but becomes important if S is low but the attendence is high. Also, the adjustment is always upward, never downward.
  • Third, I assigned the first-round grades according to the following brackets:
  • A+ for raw, unadjusted combined scores S above 92% (adjusted scores not used for A grades).
  • A for raw, unadjusted combined scores S above 80.5% (adjusted scores not used for A grades).
  • B for raw, unadjusted combined scores S above 66.5% or adjusted scores A above 70%.
  • C for raw, unadjusted combined scores S above 52% or adjusted scores A above 55%.
  • D for raw, unadjusted combined scores S above 40% or adjusted scores A above 35%.
  • F for raw, unadjusted combined scores S below 40% or adjusted scores A below 35%.
  • Finally, I took a close look at all the grades and manually adjusted a few marginal grades one grade point up when the particular student's overall performance record warranted such adjustment.
  • For your information, the average grade for students who stayed in class is 2.92; the average for all registered students (conting Q as 0) is2.63.

    Last Modified: March 11, 2003
    Vadim Kaplunovsky