STL 105 -- Scientific and Technological Literacy Program:
Commercial Systems Theme

Victor Stanionis
Iona College

A course that demonstrates the relationship between science and business. The roles of scientific analysis, scientific knowledge and technology as vital tools in managerial decision making in business are emphasized. Business related case studies that demonstrate that science and scientific methods are components of typical business decision making problems are used.

Prerequisite: STL 100 -- Scientific and Technological Literacy Program: Matter, Energy, Life, and Systems. (Please note: a description of this course is included in a separate entry in this disk.) Class meetings include lecture and laboratory. Special fee required. 3 credits. Scheduled every semester.

This course will build on the foundation laid in the prerequisite first STL course. A student entering this course is expected to bring experience with and the ability to make practical use of problem-solving techniques, modeling approaches, the systems viewpoint, and quantitative techniques involving graphing, standard algebra, and probabilistic reasoning. She/he is also expected to have had some practice in making, organizing and recording measurements, and in writing appropriate reports based on observations and hands-on activities. Moreover, fundamental concepts such as energy, the cell, atomic and molecular structure, the scientific laws of conservation, the genetic code, etc., should be familiar. By organizing this course about the theme of commercial systems, we are able to apply some of our basic skills and emerging literacy to interesting problems that illustrate many of the facets of science and technology at work in our society.

Student Responsibilities
To become eligible to earn a passing grade in this course, a student must first complete the course, which means: attend virtually all lectures, complete all laboratory activities, complete all assigned readings on time, submit all the required written assignments and reports, and take both the mid-course test and the final examination. Allowance will be made for a minimal number of absences, but the professor must be informed in each case and, when possible, in advance. It will frequently not be possible to make up missed lab work, but arrangements can sometimes be made if the absence is anticipated or reported immediately. Make-ups are not automatically given for tests and exams. The reason for the absence must be documented and compelling, and the opportunity to take a make-up test will be decided on a case by case basis.

Plagiarism, cheating or any form of intellectual dishonesty on any work for this course will result in forfeiture of all credit for that work with no opportunity to make up the loss.

Students are expected to take part in classroom discussions. Since this course is not dependent on a text book, there will be more than the average number of occasions when students have the need to ask questions or seek individual help. Please recognize these times and take advantage of the professor's willingness to help.

Two public STL lectures take place during the semester. Both lectures take place during college activities hours. The topics are announced as soon as the arrangements are confirmed. Students in this course are required to attend and present written reports on the lectures.

Grading Policy (typical)
Course grades will be developed from the following formula (for those students who have completed the course as described above):

Assignments 25%
Lab activities and reports 30%
Mid-course test 20%
Final exam 25%

No alternate means of earning grades are offered. However, if a student's score in one of the four indicators above is significantly lower than in the other three, the weighting percentages are adjusted in the student's favor. This flexibility is exercised by the professor on a case by case basis. The amount of the adjustment depends on his judgment but it will always be in the student's favor.


1. Introduction: Course Overview & Requirements.
2. The Commercial Systems Theme; Some Pertinent Characteristics of Science & Technology

Activity 0. Picking A Technology Winner (Assignment #1)

3. Analysis and Regulation of Technology
4. Introduction to the Case Studies; Electricity and Electrical Quantities

Activity 1. Measurements of Current, Voltage & Resistance

5. The Business of Electrical Power: A Consumer's Point of View
6. Electric Lighting Technologies

Activity 2. Comparisons of Incandescent Light Sources

7. The Commercial Potential of New Electric Lighting Technologies
8. The Business of Electric Power: A Producer's Point of View

Activity 3. Surveys of Lighting Power and Lighting Level

9. Generation and Transmission of Electricity
10. Utility Decisions Concerning Expansion of Capacity and Rate Setting

Activity 4. Photovoltaic Cells

11. Transmission - Efficiency, Environmental and Aesthetic Issues
12. Transmission - Health Issues
13. Photovoltaics: A Look at a Specific Device Technology
14. The Biotechnology Industry: The Biology Behind the Business

Activity 5. Antimicrobial Sensitivity/Antibiotic Effectiveness

15. Commercial Applications of Biotechnology

Activity 6. Probability

16. From Lab to Marketplace: Biotechnology and Health-Related Products

17. Deterministic vs. Probabilistic Modeling

Activity 7. Constructing Branching ( Time Impact) Diagrams

18. Visionary Forecasting: Time Impact Diagrams and Scenarios
19. Superconductivity: An Example

Activity 8. The Delphi Technique

20. Probability and Decision Problems
21. Decisions Involving Values: Utility

Activity 9. Decision Tree Analysis

22. Projections and Extrapolation

Activity 10. Autocast II: Time Series Forecasting on the Microcomputer

23. Time Series Forecasting
24. Smoothing Techniques

Activity 11. Dynamic Programming: Planning an Optimal Route to the Goal

25. Growth Patterns and Models: Examples for Business, Technology and Nature
26. The Next Quarter Century: A Look Ahead

Activity 12. Forecasting & Futurecasting (Discussion of assigned projects)

27. (Last class) Course Summary and Review

Date and Time TBA Final Examination - Comprehensive, 2 hrs. 10 min.