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Abort, Retry, Ignore Electrical Engineering For Non Engineers

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.137.1 - 7.137.6



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Monica Mallini

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

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Abort, Retry, Ignore – Electrical Engineering for Non-Engineers

Multimedia Session 2793 Monica A. Mallini-Rourke Alexandria Research Institute Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 206 N. Washington Street Suite 400 Alexandria, VA 22314

Abstract - Electrical Engineering 2300 is a required course for certain undergraduate and graduate computer science students at Lamar University. This course for non-engineering majors covers a broad range of topics, including electrical energy, analog circuits, combinational logic, and digital circuits. Teaching a survey course in electrical engineering to a class with no prerequisite engineering knowledge except introductory calculus poses a considerable challenge for the instructor. What is the objective of such a course? Where does one begin? How can the material be condensed into twenty-five 50-minute lectures? Why should a non-engineer want to acquire this knowledge? Because engineering is much more than book learning, theory is reinforced by laboratory exercises in circuits and digital electronics. Typically, the students have no prior hands-on laboratory experience. The laboratory component seeks to meld the familiar (computer simulation) with the novel (hands-on synthesis and analysis) and relate each activity to current lecture material. Course exams lean heavily toward the practical application of skills, such as using technical data sheets. At its best, this course brings a real-world perspective to the future computer science professional and aids the development of problem solving skills. This paper presents a brief synopsis of the course, lessons learned by a new instructor, and recommendations for developing similar courses.

Introduction The novice instructor was about to tackle her first semester teaching electrical engineering to undergraduates.

“ELEN 2300: Analog & Digital Logic Circuits. Credits 3. For non-EE majors, this course covers a broad range of analog and digital circuits. Prerequisite: Calculus I.”

It didn’t seem so bad. The framework offered broad latitude for instructor discretion.

“GOALS: Successive knowledge development leading to the understanding of basic computer architecture, including basic analog and digital logic circuits, number systems, memory devices, various building blocks of a computer, and interfacing real-world inputs/outputs to the computer.”

Computer architecture? In a one-semester course for non-majors?

“Prerequisites by topic: Physics Complex variables Basic computer skills”

What had I gotten myself into?

First, don’t panic. As a novice instructor, I had the advantage of not knowing that I was in deep trouble, so I entered the classroom each day with confidence. Furthermore, the other professors were so glad not to be teaching ELEN 2300 that they wouldn’t criticize any scheme or

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Mallini, M. (2002, June), Abort, Retry, Ignore Electrical Engineering For Non Engineers Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10668

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