Online Course FAQ

Below you will find answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the two online courses I teach in the summer at Penn State University, E MCH 211 (Statics) and E MCH 212 (Dynamics).

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When does each course start and finish?
Statics starts on May 16 and the final exam is on June 27. Dynamics starts on June 29 and the final exam is on August 12.

How do I register for one or both of these courses?
If you are a Penn State student, then you register for them like would any Penn State course. For summer 2016, that means through eLion.

If you are not a Penn State student, then for to register for Statics, go here scroll to the bottom of the page, and to register for Dynamics, go here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Do I need to be on the University Park Campus for exams?
The two courses I teach online in the summer, E MCH 211 (Statics) and E MCH 212 (Dynamics), can be taken from anywhere in the world. 

What do I need to take the course?

  • You need access to a very good Internet connection so that you can watch streaming video.
  • You need a proctor for all exams. The proctor must be willing to download each exam, print it, proctor the exam while you take it, scan the exam to a PDF file when you are done, and then upload the exam with your help to a desginated location. Information regarding proctors can be found in this form.
  • A scanner so that you can scan to a PDF file each homework assignment. Alternatively, you can use a pen and a tablet for your homework, but it still must be submitted as a PDF file.
  • Access to the textbook for the course. You need the textbook since all the homework problems are assigned out of it.
    • The textbook for statics is M.E. Plesha, G.L. Gray, and F. Costanzo (2013) Engineering Mechanics: Statics, 2nd Edition, McGraw-Hill
    • The textbook for dynamics is G.L. Gray, F. Costanzo, and M.E. Plesha (2013) Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics, 2nd Edition, McGraw-Hill.
    • You may purchase one year access to electronic versions of the textbooks at

How do I get help with the course material when I need it?
Abundant help will be available.

  • In Person. If you are living near the University Park campus, then both I and the TAs for the course will hold weekly office hours on campus.
  • Online. Help will also be available via videoconferencing using In the videoconference, we can share the screen of a tablet with you so that we can draw free body diagrams, write equations, etc.

How much time should I expect to spend on each course?
The College of Engineering at Penn State has a rule of thumb that a student should spend 2 hours outside of class of every hour inside class on a typical engineering course. Since each semester during the academic year has 44 hours in class, that translates to 88 hours outside of class for a total of 132 hours. If you divide that by the six weeks, which is the length of each summer session, that works out to 22 hours per week. Statics not considered to be a difficult course, so you might be able to get by with less for it. Dynamics, on the other hand, is considered to be a very difficult course so 22 hours per week should be considered the minimum to get through it.

How do the exams work?
The exams are proctored by someone that you find and that we approve using a quiz on the . The proctor must be willing to download each exam, print it, proctor the exam while you take it, scan the exam to a PDF file when you are done, and then upload the exam with your help to a desginated location. If you are living on or near the Penn State University Park campus for one or more of the exams, those exams can be taken on campus and proctored by us.

Can you provide a syllabus for each course so that I can get it approved by my university?
I sure can! The syllabus for statics can be found here and the syllabus for dynamics here. Both courses are identical in content to resident versions taught on the University Park campus during the academic year.

What are the dates of the exams?
The exams in statics must be taken on May 31, June 13, and June 27. The exams in dynamics must be taken on July 14, July 29, and August 12. Exceptions to these may be made under some circumstances (e.g., illness). © Gary L. Gray 2013–2018