June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Electrical and Computer
11.90.1 - 11.90.11
A Novel Introductory Course for Teaching the Fundamentals of Electrical and Computer Engineering
The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department at Duke University is undergoing extensive curriculum revisions incorporating both new content and organization and innovative teaching methods. The cornerstone of the new curriculum is a theme-based introductory course entitled Fundamentals of ECE. To introduce students to the major areas of ECE in their first year of study, this course has been organized around three concepts: 1) how to interface with the physical world, 2) how to transfer/transmit energy/information, and 3) how to extract/analyze/ interpret information. Other goals include illustrating how various areas of ECE contribute to the design and functioning of an entire system, emphasizing the relevance of course material to real- world applications, and capturing the students’ imagination and creativity. To achieve these goals, the course adopts a unifying theme, tightly couples lecture and laboratory exercises, and includes a laboratory experience that emphasizes design, integration, and real applications. The course content and laboratory exercises were developed iteratively such that each component supported the other, rather than one being dominant and driving the other. A robotic platform was selected as the foundation of the laboratory experience. This platform enables the exploration of a broad range of ECE concepts, both independently and integrated into an entire system, is flexible, to encourage creative solutions, is capable of being applied to real-world challenges, and is easily connected to the curricular theme. This paper describes the curricular objectives and key course elements which guided the development of this course, the process by which the course was created, and the resulting content and structure.
1.1 ECE Curriculum Redesign
The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University is undergoing a comprehensive curriculum redesign. Large-scale planning and development for the new curriculum has been conducted in earnest since early 2003. Before the redesign began, assessment of the existing curriculum identified six areas for improvement including: 1) a need to provide a coherent, overarching framework that integrates basic principles of ECE to serve as a roadmap through the curriculum, 2) a need to provide more guidance, through earlier, broader exposure to ECE, to assist students in the selection of technical areas of concentration, 3) a need for a more balanced coverage of fundamental areas of ECE, 4) a need for more flexible areas of concentration requirements, 5) a need to broaden design course opportunities, and 6) a need to better integrate the use of computational tools. To meet these needs, the overall structure of the curriculum has been redesigned around the theme of Integrated Sensing and Information Processing (ISIP). A theme-based curriculum facilitates the linkage of ECE topic areas to each other and to real-world challenges. Additional goals include incorporating innovative pedagogical techniques and hands-on experience throughout the curriculum while maintaining curricular flexibility1.
Huettel, L., & Brown, A., & Collins, L., & Coonley, K., & Gustafson, M., & Kim, J., & Ybarra, G. (2006, June), A Novel Introductory Course For Teaching The Fundamentals Of Electrical And Computer Engineering Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/803
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