Fall 2016 CSCI 178 Syllabus


The course instructor for CSCI 178 is J Dean Brock. The class meets in Robinson 223 on Tuesday and Thursday from 1:20 PM to 3:00 PM.

Class home page

All class handouts, including homework assignments, can be accessed through the following URL:

Official Class Description

MEMS to WWW: Exposing the Sensored World

You’re probably carrying a thermometer, compass, barometer, and gyroscope around right now. These sensors are implemented as MEMS (microelectronmechanical systems) contained in your cell phone or fitness tracker. In this course, you will discover how to connect MEMS devices to the World Wide Web. Expect to learn a bit about microcontrollers and web development. No prior programming experience is required.

What really happens

This course focuses on the ways in which the physical world can be sampled and displayed. A simple example of this would be creating a web page that displays room temperature. If time permits, we will also look into how real devices, such as heaters and toys, can be controlled through a smartphone or a web brower. It’s really a little of bit of what we now call IoT, the Internet of Things. The topics will vary depending on student and instructor interests and available resources.

Requirements Satisfied

This course satisfies the requirement of a Liberal Arts First-Year Colloquia at UNC Asheville.

Readings and stuff

All reading will be from on-line resources, which may include on-line books available at the UNC Asheville library.

Here are examples of resources that will be provided for the course by the Department of Computer Science.

You may check out hardware for out-of-class usage. At some point, you may want to purchase you own processors and sensors. There are many useful, and inexpensive, kits that include processors, breadboards, wires, and sensors.


The following weights are used in computing the course grade.

Grade component Weight
In-class exams
Papers, Presentations & Projects


There will be one in-class exam around Halloween.

UNC Asheville’s Academic Policies and Procedures do provide excused absences for “travel on university-sanctioned business” and “up to two excused absences per semester for religious observances” when seven days notice is given. The seven day notice will allow the instructor to reschedule exams to avoid excused absenses. For this reason, attendance at all exams is mandatory.

Providing the instructor with a list of planned university-sanctioned absences at the beginning of the course does not constitute adequate notice.


Homework assignment will be well-defined, relatively simple, exercises to keep you on track. An example, would be the creation of a web pagek.

Papers, Presentations & Projects

There will be a couple of short review papers assigned during the term. Students, sometimes working in teams, will complete projects which they will present in class. The final exam period will be used to class presentations.


The following numerical scale will be used in assigning grades based on Score, the score computed using the weights described above.

Score ≥ 93A
Score ≥ 90 & Score < 93A-
Score ≥ 87 & Score < 90B+
Score ≥ 83 & Score < 87B
Score ≥ 80 & Score < 83B-
Score ≥ 77 & Score < 80C+
Score ≥ 73 & Score < 77C
Score ≥ 70 & Score < 73C-
Score ≥ 67 & Score < 70D+
Score ≥ 60 & Score < 67D
Score < 60F

Classroom expectations

The classroom is a place where students and faculty behave professionally. We are polite and attentive. We avoid talk of politics and religion. We do not use offensive language.

Required attendance

Some class activities, such as exams and in-class labs, generate grades. You will receive a grade of 0 for those activities you miss. If you have an authorized excuse, you will be given an opportunity for a make-up.

Some class periods will be dedicated to student presentations. You are expected to attend all presentations by your fellow students. If you do not, your grade for own presentation will be adjusted.

Academic misconduct

It is never proper to claim another’s work as your own in graded work.

Impermissible actions

There are several impermissible actions that will result in the imposition of course or university sanctions. Impermissible actions in homework assignments include the following:

Impermissible actions on exams include the following:

Sometimes these rules may be modified or clarified for specific assignments and exams. For example, ”pair“ programming may be allowed for an assignment, or simple scientific calculators may be allowed during an exam.

Course sanctions for impermissible actions

The first offense will result in a grade of 0 for the related assignment or exam. The second offense will result in a grade of F for the course.

University policy on academic misconduct

The UNC Asheville Student Handbook has a section devoted to Academic Misconduct. It states the following:

A student accused of academic dishonesty should talk with his or her instructor. In all situations where a student has been disciplined for plagiarism or cheating, the instructor is to submit to the VCAA a brief statement of the case; the student is to receive a copy of this document. Depending upon the severity and/or repetition of the offense, the VCAA may choose to impose a penalty of cancellation of graduation with honors; cancellation of scholarships; dismissal from the university; or any other penalty which he or she deems logical and deserved. A student has 10 class days to respond to this document, in writing; this response is to be sent to the VCAA for attachment to the document submitted by the instructor.

In practice, students who have been involved in academic misconduct in three courses will be suspended for a semester. However a single significant offense, such as the submission of a plagiarized paper in entirety, can result in immediate dismissal.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Statement from the Office of Academic Accessibility

University of North Carolina at Asheville is committed to making courses, programs and activities accessible to persons with documented disabilities. Students requiring reasonable accommodations must register with the Office of Academic Accessibility by providing supporting documentation. All information provided will remain confidential. For more information please contact the Office of Academic Accessibility at (828)232-5050 or academicaccess@unca.edu or visit them in the OneStop Student Services Center.

Email communications

Information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act should only be sent to official university email addresses. Information related to recorded grades is clearly protected, as is any discussion that would allow a reader to draw conclusions about your performance or attendance in class.

Email sent to me, even if it does not involve the use of state-maintained computers, may be subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law and, as such, may be disclosed to third parties.

For more information and help

I have office hours Friday afternoon from 1:30 to 4:00. The best way to get in touch with me quickly is to send email to brock@unca.edu.

I get lots of email, so please include CSCI 178 in the subject line.