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A Six Year Review Of New Course Development In Electrical Engineering Technology At Northeastern University In The Area Of Industrial Control Systems Reveals Successes And Failures ? A Case History

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

ECET Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.113.1 - 12.113.8



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Paper Authors


Jerome Tapper Northeastern University

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Professor Tapper is an Associate Academic Specialist in EET at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. He holds a BSEE and an MSIS both from Northeastern University. Jerry is a Registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with over twenty-five years of industrial experience. He is also the author of a tool-kit based text for electrical engineering technology students, Electtonics for Engineering Technology and has authored more than 25 papers on the pedagogy of Engineering Technology.

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Francis Dibella Northeastern University

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Professor Dibella is the current Director of the School of Engineering Technology at Northeastern University. He holds a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering and is Registered Professional Engineer. Professor Dibella has written numerous papers on the subject of renewable energy.

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Walter Buchanan Texas A&M University

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Dr. Buchanan is a Professor and Head of the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A & M University. He received his BSE and MSE from Purdue University and his PH.D. and J.D. from Indiana University. Walt is a P.E. in five states, and is a Past Chair of the Engineering Technology Division of ASEE. He has written more than 90 papers, and is a member of TAC of ABET and Past Chair of IEEE's CTAA

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Student course evaluations for these courses have consistently been the highest in the department. Let us now go back to the beginning and examine the historical progress of these courses as it unfolded.

The Initial Concept

In 1998 several School of Engineering Technology (SET) department faculty members were having lunch, while discussing various department issues. One of the more important issues facing the department at that time was the problem of how to create a more interesting and industry-relative engineering technology program – an issue that has faced many an engineering technology department in the past and will probably continue forever. During that conversation, one of the electrical engineering faculty, Professor Jerome Tapper, suggested a possible new direction. The basis for his idea was based on his twenty years of industry experience in the “Industrial Controls” area. His suggestion was as follows.

“…Why don’t we try a new avenue in the electrical area such as Industrial Control Systems, perhaps even a new style of course structure?”

Professor Jerome Tapper

The room went quiet as one of the other professors responded by asking – “just what is Industrial Control Systems?” Amazed at this response, Professor Tapper went on to explain what this area of electrical engineering technology was all about. In reality, this was a good thing, as it seemed that it would genuinely be a “new” idea and not one that would be a rehash of an old.

The concept was explained as follows. The idea was to create an industry oriented course, or sequence of courses, that would closely simulate an actual industrial environment. The idea being that a new type of teaching venue would be created that would contain both lecture and hands-on laboratory design work in the same course time period. Its format was coined the “lecture-laboratory venue.” The folks at this luncheon meeting all agreed that it was a unique idea that had merit. At that moment the College of Engineering dean happened to walk into this meeting. As he inquired as to what was going on, one of the folks at the meeting explained that Professor Tapper had a new idea that had merit and would be an excellent way to help revitalize the electrical engineering technology program. Interestingly enough, the first words from the dean in response to this was, “What is it going to cost me..?” This seemed like an interesting comment in that the dean had no idea of the details of our preceding discussion. The concept was then explained. The dean commented further by asking as to where we would get the equipment resources to start such a venture. It was explained that the department would solicit industrial manufacturers for equipment donations and believed that they would respond favorably. There was, however, one thing the dean could help with. – a physical space to house this new laboratory. The dean then responded by saying that if the appropriate “new” equipment could be acquired, he would see that an appropriate space would be made available.

The Beginnings

Tapper, J., & Dibella, F., & Buchanan, W. (2007, June), A Six Year Review Of New Course Development In Electrical Engineering Technology At Northeastern University In The Area Of Industrial Control Systems Reveals Successes And Failures ? A Case History Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1578

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