An interesting thing happened the other day. I was computing the Stiefel-Whitney numbers for $\mathbb{C}P^2$ **connect sum** $\mathbb{C}P^2$ to show that it was a boundary of another manifold. Of course, one can calculate the signature, check that it is non-zero and conclude that it can't be the boundary of an *oriented* manifold. I decided it might be interesting to calculate the first and only Pontrjagin number to check that it doesn't vanish. I believe Hirzebruch's Signature Theorem can be used to show that it is 6, but I was interested in relating the Stiefel-Whitney classes to the Pontrjagin classes.

I believe one relation is

$p_i (\mathrm{mod} 2) \equiv w_{2i}^2$ (pg. 181 Milnor-Stasheff)

So I went ahead and did a silly thing. I took my first Chern classes of the original connect sum pieces say 3a and 3b, used the fact that the inclusion should restrict my 2nd second "Stiefel-Whitney Class" (scare quotes because we haven't reduced mod 2) on each piece to these two to get $w_2(connect sum)=(3\bar{a},3\bar{b})$. I can use the intersection form to square this and get $3\bar{a}^2+3\bar{b}^2=6c$ since the top dimensional elements in a connect sum are identified. Evaluating this against the fundamental class gives us exactly the first Pontrjagin number! **This is false. Of course this is wrong because it should be 9+9=18 as pointed out below. This does away with my supposed miracle example. My Apologies!**

This brings me to a broader question, namely of defining Stiefel-Whitney Classes over the integers. This was hinted at in Ilya Grigoriev's response to Solbap's question when he says

On thing that confuses me: why are the pullbacks of the integer cohomology of the real Grassmanian never called characteristic classes?

Of course the natural reason to restrict to $\mathbb{Z}/2$ coefficients is to get around orientability concerns. But it seems like if we restrict our orientation to orientable bundles we could use a construction analogous to those of the Chern classes where Milnor-Stasheff inductively declare the top class to be the Euler class, then look at the orthogonal complement bundle to the total space minus its zero section and continue. I suppose the induction might break down because the complex structure is being used, but I don't see where explicitly. If someone could tell me where the complex structure is being used directly, I'd appreciate it. Note the Euler class on odd dimensional fibers will be 2-torsion so this might produce interesting behavior in this proposed S-W class extension.

Another way of extending Stiefel-Whitney classes would be to use Steenrod squares. Bredon does use Steenrod powers with coefficient groups other than $\mathbb{Z}/2$ (generally $\mathbb{Z}/p$ $p\neq 2$), but this creates awkward constraints on the cohomology groups. Is this an obstruction to extending it to $\mathbb{Z}$ coefficients? It would be interesting to see what these two proposed extensions of S-W classes do and how they are related.