EME 597 (589)
Management and Design of RESS



EME 597 (589), Management and Design of RESS (Spring 2023)

This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document or by clicking on any of the links below to “jump” to a specific section. It is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in the Course Orientation. Together these serve as our course "contract."


Dr. Erich W. Schienke
05 Hosler Bldg.
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
The Pennsylvania State University

  • E-mail: Please use the course e-mail system in Canvas.
  • Office Hours by appointment.
  • Send me an email if you want to talk. I always prefer a phone call over writing a long email, but don't want to post my phone number on an open-access course site.


I will typically read and respond to e-mail once per day during the work week (Monday through Friday). I continuously follow discussion forums, but do not readily interject with responses unless a specific question or concern is brought to my attention. You may see me online occasionally on the weekends, but please don't count on it!


Class Support Services

Penn State Online offers online tutoring to World Campus students in math, writing, and some business classes. Tutoring and guided study groups for residential students are available through Penn State Learning.

Course Overview


During your time in the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems Program, you have learned a variety of concepts and strategies for solving unique challenges relating to the energy economy. This capstone course offers you an opportunity to engage in a team-based project where you will collectively apply knowledge and skills you have acquired. Working collaboratively, you will conduct an analysis and establish a design document that will address major energy and related sustainability concerns for a “client organization,” herein just known as client. The project being proposed needs to be for a local client, so stakeholder interactions can occur with at least one of the team members. Also, the project needs to be one that is within the client’s capacity to manage and make decisions. 

The class project will consist of a semester-long effort of a team of final-year RESS students, carrying out the following phases of effort: project definition, working with stakeholders, preliminary design, technology selection towards a detailed design, and a presentation of the final report followed by evaluation. Deliverables from the project will include a full written report by the team and intended for the client, accompanying appendices of calculations and related documents as well as individual work, and an oral presentation overview of project findings.

Prerequisites and concurrent courses:

This course is for RESS MPS students only. Also, this course requires instructor permission. You will need to be within the last year of completing your RESS MPS to be able join the course. (This course is only taught in the Spring semesters, so if you plan to graduate either the Spring, Summer or Fall of that year, you will be able to join the course.)

Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be disenrolled according to Administrative Policy C-5 if you do not have the proper prerequisite override. If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, then promptly consult with the instructor if you have not done so already. Students who re-enroll after being disenrolled, according to this policy, are in violation of Item 15 of the Student Code of Conduct.

Course Objectives

When you successfully complete this course, you will be prepared to:

  • Evaluate the project's economically feasibility
  • Cite materials, methods, and information from other RESS courses
  • Explain how the project design address the needs of the client in a sustainable manner
  • Analyze how the project includes renewable energy, smart grid, and energy storage technologies with the goal of both zero carbon and energy resiliency
  • Communicate with stakeholders to develop a project suitable to all significant interests


On average, most students spend eight to ten hours per week working on course assignments and group activities. Your workload may be more or less depending on your study habits, group needs, etc.

I have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. The Internet may still be a novel learning environment for you, but in one sense it is no different from a traditional college class: how much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with me as well as with your fellow students.

Specific learning objectives for each lesson and project are detailed in each lesson. The class schedule is published below and in Canvas (the course management system used for this course).

Required Course Materials

Required textbook: None

Online lesson content

All materials needed for this course are presented online through Canvas and Lynda.com. Content and expectations for this course also relies heavily on materials learned in other RESS courses. In order to access the online materials, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course resources).  If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact Penn State IT Service Desk for World Campus students or Penn State IT Get Support (for students at all other campus locations).

For additional needs related to socioeconomic status, please visit Project Cahir.


This course will rely on a variety of methods to assess and evaluate student learning, including:

  • Communication will be evaluated individually and as a group regarding your commitment to communicating regularly and clearly
  • Writing will be evaluated through the production of a final report
  • Presentations will be evaluated when the team presents their final recommendations
  • Stakeholder engagement will depend primarily on how well the entire group is able to sustain communication and collaboration with project stakeholder
  • Use of collaboration tools will be evaluated based on activities such as the regular and sustained use of Trello, Zoom, Google Drive, Box, VoiceThread, and others. 
    NOTE: This course requires students to maintain a web presence that may include things such as the creation of a web page, blog postings, video sharing and other Internet participation. You will be required to participate in online activities that are widely accessible to all, including others outside of Penn State.
  • Citation and Reference Style
    I prefer citations in Chicago format, but as long as the citation formatting is the same across all group deliverables, then I am fine with any listed in the following parenthesis. Here you will find the Academic Integrity and Citation Style Guide library page. This page provides links to guides for a variety of styles (APA, MLA, CSE, Turabian, and Chicago).

It is important that your work is submitted in the proper format to the appropriate Canvas Assignment or Discussion Forum and by the designated due date. I strongly advise that you and your group not wait until the last minute to complete these assignments—give yourself time to ask questions, think things over, and chat with others. You'll learn more, do better...and be happier!

Due dates for all assignments are posted on the syllabus and course calendar in Canvas.


PLEASE NOTE: This is a single project driven course. Other than regular discussion forums and group meetings, there are not any other milestones for determining your grade throughout the semester until the final projects and presentations are complete. Therefore, for the bulk of the semester, I cannot readily answer the question "what is my current grade in this course?" If you have any specific concerns about aspects of your performance at a given point in the semester, please ask and I will try to give you constructive feedback.

Breakdown of each assignment's value as a percentage of the total course grade.
Assignment Percent of Grade
Final Project 50%
Final Presentation 25%
Discussions and Group Participation  25%

I will use the Canvas grade book to keep track of your grades, but keep in mind that for this course, there are very few milestones until the end of the course. Overall course grades will be determined as follows. Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned.

Letter Grade and Corresponding Percentage
Letter Grade Percentages
A 93 - 100 %
A- 90 - 92.9 %
B+ 87 - 89.9 %
B 83 - 86.9 %
B- 80 - 82.9%
C+ 77 - 79.9 %
C 70 - 76.9 %
D 60 - 69.9 %
F < 60 %

Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Late Policy

I do not typically accept any "late work," that is turned in after the due date. In exceptional circumstances, you should contact me. The earlier you contact me to request a late submission, the better. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Generally, late assignments will be assessed a penalty of at least 10% and will not be accepted more than one week after the original due date.

Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

Below you will find a summary of the primary learning activities for this course and the associated time frames. This course is fifteen weeks in length, with an orientation week preceding the official start of the course. Each lesson is one week long, but modules may span more than one week/lesson. See our Syllabus/Calendar in Canvas for specific lesson time frames and assignment due dates.

NOTE: See the Canvas Syllabus or Calendar for a full semester calendar of events and due dates.

Week #: 1
Topics: Project Management, Team Dynamics, and Scholarship (Module 1 Part 1) 
Readings: Lynda.com Video Tutorials
Assignments: Complete submission of any project proposals on Trello; Discussion Forum
Week #: 2
Topics: Project Management, Team Dynamics, and Scholarship (Module 1 Part 2) 
Readings: Lynda.com Video Tutorials
Assignments: Vote on Project Proposals; Discussion Forum
Week #: 3
Topics: Project Definition and Working with Stakeholders (Module 2 Part 1) 
Readings: Lynda.com Video Tutorials
Assignments: Organize into teams; Complete first team meeting; Discussion Forum
Week #: 4
Topics: Project Definition and Working with Stakeholders (Module 2 Part 2) 
Readings: Lynda.com Video Tutorials
Assignments: Complete second team meeting; Initiate contact with primary stakeholders; Complete stakeholder resource worksheet
Week #: 5
Topics: Project Description and Preliminary Design (Module 3 Part 1) 
Readings: Lynda.com Video Tutorials
Assignments: Complete third team meeting; Develop draft of project design worksheet; Discussion Forum
Week #: 6
Topics: Project Description and Preliminary Design (Module 3 Part 2) 
Readings: Lynda.com Video Tutorials
Assignments: Complete fourth team meeting; Complete draft of project design worksheet
Week #: 7
Topics: Project Description and Preliminary Design (Module 3 Part 3) 
Readings: Lynda.com Video Tutorials
Assignments: Complete fifth team meeting; Complete feasibility assessment
Week #: 8
Topics: Technology Selection and Detailed Design (Module 4 Part 1) 
Readings: Based on your research
Assignments: Complete sixth team meeting; Draft of detailed design; Discussion forum
Week #: 9
Topics: Technology Selection and Detailed Design (Module 4 Part 2) 
Readings: Based on your research
Assignments: Complete seventh team meeting; Refine draft of detailed design; Continue to gather feedback from stakeholders on projected technologies
Week #: 10
Topics: Technology Selection and Detailed Design (Module 4 Part 3) 
Readings: Based on your research
Assignments: Complete eigth team meeting; Complete draft of detailed design; Discussion forum
Week #: 11
Topics: Technology Selection and Detailed Design (Module 4 Part 4) 
Readings: Based on your research
Assignments: Complete ninth team meeting; Converge all proposals into a single group draft of detailed design for client
Week #: 12
Topics: Presentation (Module 5 Part 1) 
Readings: Based on your research
Assignments: Complete tenth team meeting; Draft of final presentation
Week #: 13
Topics: Presentation (Module 5 Part 2) 
Readings: Based on your research
Assignments: Complete eleventh team meeting; Complete final presentation
Week #: 14
Topics: Evaluation (Module 5 Part 3) 
Readings: Your Final Projects and Presentations
Assignments: Complete twelfth team meeting; Final presentations delivered via Zoom
Week #: 15
Topics: Evaluation (Module 5 Part 4) 
Readings: Your Final Projects and Presentations
Assignments: Compile and submit final documents for evaluation of written proposal; Deliver proposal to client

Course Policies

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the procedures for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's Academic Integrity Training for Students

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Office for Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for Campus Disability Coordinators at every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Office for Student Disability Resources website

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation. See documentation guidelines at Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Change in Normal Campus Operations

In case of weather-related delays or other emergency camps disruptions or closures at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to these delays or closures. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Reporting Educational Equity Concerns

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.  Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision-making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information to others whom you do not know.

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure web site which means that your connection is encrypted. We do however link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions on our Technical Requirements page to view the mixed content.


This course must be viewed using the latest version of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Edge. Internet Explorer is not supported. If you use any other browser, or if you are not using the latest version of your browser, some pages containing equations may not render properly. In addition, javascript must be enabled for equations to render properly. If you have any issues with equations not rendering properly, please update your browser to the latest version or try using a different browser. If you need additional technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period.  It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion within policy.  If for any reason, the coursework for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming, and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:


This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.


Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated with you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.