Energy, Power and Transportation

Tom Termes, Industrial Technology, Black Hills State University


This course provides an understanding of the principles of energy, power, transportation, and applied technology. Topics, among others, include technological literacy, history, and industrial uses of energy, power, and transportation, including the theory, application, conservation, and control of these resources.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Lecture only

Institution Type:
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Context:

This course is required for all Industrial Technology students. Even though it is a 200 level course it has no prerequisites. More than one-half of our students are "non-traditional." Student population is about 85% male. It is taught via interactive television and so it is typically offered in 4 -5 locations.

Course Content:

The course is intended to provide students with an understanding of physical systems. Specifically the student should gain an understanding of how mechanical, electrical, fluidic, and thermal systems operate. An attempt is made to demonstrate similarities between these systems and to analyze these systems mathematically, providing the student with the ability to make critical decisions concerning these systems. Special emphasis is placed on the production and consumption of energy. Lastly a significant amount of time is spent on alternative energy systems:
(1) the need alternative energy development,
(2) types of alternatives,
(3) operation of various alternative energy systems.

Course Goals:

In basic schematic fashion, students will draw each of the following, and explain its operation. In the drawings the student will label all significant components, and explain how the components relate to the operation of the device:
(1) hydroelectric generator,
(2) wind turbine,
(3) a photovoltaic solar system,
(4) a solar thermal system, and
(5) a passive heated building.
The students will understand the concepts of efficiency, listing typical efficiencies for common electrical/mechanical/thermal devices. In a simple sketch the student will draw and explain the operation of the diesel over electric locomotive, the parallel hybrid vehicle and the series hybrid vehicle. The student will be able to express why there is a need for societal changes in the way we produce energy and in the way we use it. The student will propose solutions to the world's energy crisis.

Course Features:

TECH 262 – Energy Power and Transportation is always taught in a distance format. We use interactive television. This format is challenging, but this arrangement allows us to teach the class to students all over the state of South Dakota. Because of the on-line format the use of hands on learning activities is very difficult. One of the techniques that I have found helpful in terms of student engagement is the use of short student presentations. I might give an assignment on inexhaustible energy sources in which the students must produce a five slide Power Point. In class the students present their Power Points and the entire class responds to the presentations. In addition, as a semester project, I have the students do a research paper on a subject of their choice. Most of the students choose a topic relating to alternative energy, or on energy conservation. After the papers have all been turned in, on the last day of class, we have each of the students briefly discuss their paper, explaining why they choose this topic and why it is important.

Course Philosophy:

The subjects of energy use and energy production have always been interesting to me and, as it turns out, these topics are almost always interesting to those who hear about our current energy dilemma. Within this course, over the past couple of years, more and more time has been spent on sustainability simply because it is unconscionable to ignore this topic any longer. I have had to radically change my teaching methods to adapt the course to the distance teaching mode, but we are learning how to do this as time passes. The biggest problem that we have is to engage students who are typically sitting in a classroom, perhaps by themselves, at remote locations. To promote engagement I use a lot of questions, and we don't proceed with the presentation until someone answers. I also have them do small research projects in which they are required to present their findings to the class over the digital television system. These small projects tend to bring out topics that may not otherwise be covered and they also tend to promote discussion.


Students are assessed in three ways. First there are three paper and pencil tests. A grade is also given for the research paper, and for the written assignments that are given over the course of the semester. Since half of the students are located in remote locations I have some special challenges in relationship to tests. I usually give one test during the course of the semester that is a "take home test". I construct these tests so that each question includes such requirements as "explain, describe" or "compare". The take home tests usually have a few sketches required. I have very high standards as I grade these tests and I explain this as I hand out the test. I make a point of it to avoid questions whose answers are easily found in the text. Rather I try to write questions that require the student to understand a concept. The students tell me that these tests are "very hard."


Assignment for Research Paper (Acrobat (PDF) 131kB Jun14 12)

References and Notes:

Energy, Power and Transporation Technology - Litowitz and Brown
The students are required to perform research and they must find their own sources.