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A Four-year Vertically Integrated Design Sequence in Electrical Engineering

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Design Spine

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.51.1 - 25.51.6



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Paper Authors


Jeffrey L. Schiano Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Jeffrey L. Schiano is an Associate Professor electrical engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. He earned a bachelor's of science degree in electrical and biomedical engineering (with university honors) from Carnegie Mellon University in 1983, and the master's of science and doctorate of philosophy degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), in 1985 and 1991, respectively. His expertise is in the areas of feedback control systems and magnetic resonance engineering.

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A Four-Year Vertically Integrated Design Sequence in Electrical EngineeringFollowing a critical review and discussion of the design component of our curriculum, theundergraduate committee identified three areas for improvement: (1) coupling the undergraduateand graduate programs by engaging undergraduates in faculty research projects, (2) diversifyingthe spectrum and depth of capstone design projects, and (3) increasing the number of credit hoursfor engineering design tools and professional topics. The committee aims to meet theseobjectives by introducing a vertically integrated design sequence that starts with an existing firstyear design course followed by new sophomore and junior level courses that focus on designtools and processes respectively, and a revised senior capstone design course. The new designsequence is a requirement for all electrical engineering students starting with the class of 2016.In the existing program, students complete a three credit freshman course in engineering designand a three credit senior capstone design course. As the existing capstone design course blendsprofessional engineering topics and project activity, both components are diluted. Moreover, asthe professional engineering topics are required for graduation, students cannot replace thecapstone design course with other opportunities closer to their professional interests, such ashonors thesis research.To achieve the three objectives stated earlier, the new design sequence strategically spans thefour-year degree program in order to realize several advantages. First, it provides students withadditional time for their capstone design projects. Second, it broadens the spectrum of capstonedesign projects. For example, students can fulfill their capstone design requirement by teamingwith faculty and graduate students engaged in sponsored research projects. Third, moving theprofessional engineering topics to a junior level course enhances the range and depth of materialcovered and provides a forum for industries to meet junior level students seeking co-operativeassignment or full-time employment. Fourth, it includes a new sophomore course that focusseson equipping students with tools required for completing projects in the subsequent designcourses. Topics include hardware realization using field programmable gate arrays andembedded microprocessors, as well as automated test and measurements using data flow controlin a graphical programming language.This paper details the motivation behind the curriculum revisions, the integration of materialamong the four design courses, and the strategy for obtaining the approval and support of theelectrical engineering faculty for implementing the new design sequence.

Schiano, J. L. (2012, June), A Four-year Vertically Integrated Design Sequence in Electrical Engineering Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20811

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