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A Student Selected Team Based Capstone Project In Rf Communications

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Capstone and Senior Design in Electrical and Computer ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.117.1 - 14.117.8



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Paper Authors


Grant Richards Purdue University

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Grant Richards is a doctoral candidate in the College of Technology at Purdue University. He currently serves as a graduate instructor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology department. His research interests include pedagogy supporting math\physics constructs, visualization tools and RF electronics.

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John Denton Purdue University

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John Denton is an Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology in the Purdue University, College of Technology in West Lafayette, Indiana. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1995. His areas of interest and expertise are analog electronics, RF electronics and electronic materials. He is the author or co-author of over 50 journal articles and conference proceedings.

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

A Student-Selected Team-Based Capstone Project in RF Communications


This paper presents the results of a capstone project in an elective RF communications course. The course is third in a series of upper-division communications courses in an Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology program. Students were allowed to select the type of project, create specifications and develop test plans. Students were then grouped into teams that were maintained throughout the course.

The project initially progressed slowly as students selected overall specifications, determined functional blocks and developed block designs. Weekly project team meetings required teams to communicate their progress and any discoveries to the remaining teams. As the project progressed, initial designs and test criteria were updated to reflect student discoveries relating to components, manufacturing and measuring capabilities. All specifications, test procedures, and designs for the entire project were completed individually by each team and submitted to all other teams. Submissions were reviewed in design review sessions in which all teams voted on the best submission, which then served as the standard for all teams. Upon determination of all circuit designs, the project was equally divided among all teams. Each team was solely responsible for the layout, fabrication and testing of their project block.

Course instructors facilitated project progression through comments on the advantages and disadvantages of proposed approaches. Course lectures and laboratories were designed to provide instruction in concepts relating to the project which were not covered in previous courses. The project, a 915MHz, multi-channel FM audio transmitter and receiver, was successfully constructed and operational by the required delivery date.

This paper presents student results for key project milestones, results of student interviews relating to their project experiences and preferences, and instructor observations. Additionally, comments regarding the suitability of this type of capstone project method for engineering technology students are provided.


Providing meaningful laboratory experiences to electrical engineering technology students becomes increasingly challenging as they advance through a curricula. Early fundamental labs are often highly structured, but as students advance in their experience and education, the need for independent inquiry learning emerges. Students nearing graduation face the future prospect of working or studying in an environment with substantially less oversight and direction. Additionally students will need to develop self-confidence in their abilities and decisions to allow for the level of independence desired by employers.


Richards, G., & Denton, J. (2009, June), A Student Selected Team Based Capstone Project In Rf Communications Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5644

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