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Alumni Grassroots Leadership Enables Sponsored Course Development

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

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Paper Authors


Vladimir I. Prodanov California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Vlad Prodanov received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, both in electrical engineering, from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1995 and 1997 respectively.
He was with Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies from 1997 until 2000 and Agere Systems from 2000 to 2004. From 2004 to 2008 he was a member of MHI Consulting. He joined the EE Dept., Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA in 2008 where he is now a tenured Associate Professor.
Dr. Prodanov has worked on various electronic systems for communications and contributed to two dozen peer-reviewed publications, three book chapters, and twenty granted U.S. patents.
Dr. Prodanov is a recipient of several teaching awards.

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John Greene Maxim Integrated

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John is an alumnus from Cal Poly receiving both his B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering, along with a minor in physics during his tenure at Cal Poly. Post graduation, he took an application engineering position at Maxim Integrated and has helped establish a stronger university relations program by encouraging sponsorship of universities to create new courses.

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This paper presents a lab-centric course development where alumni, employed by an IAB member company, play a pivotal role. Recently the lead author of this paper qualified for a sabbatical leave and the college enthusiastically approved the proposal (a 400-level elective in networked sensors). He considered two class structures: lecture-only and lecture-lab. While lecture-lab is the desired mode of instruction, the development of such a course would take at least 2 quarters. Since extended sabbaticals are only partly funded by the university the creation of a lecture-lab course hinged on the availability of a sponsor. Simultaneously an alumnus, now with one of our IAB member company, approached the Dept. head with the idea of a company-sponsored lab with emphasis on Internet of Things (IoT). His efforts led to financial and hardware support for the lab enabling the new lecture-lab class. Additionally, he arranged for a summer intern for the firmware development (summer of 2017); the intern is a senior in our department. Another alumnus also joined the team and volunteered his time working on the hardware design. Over the summer, the team completed the hardware and gave the instructor three prototypes allowing him to develop the lab part of the class. The course was approved for the spring quarter of 2018 with the interning senior serving as a lab TA through a departmentally financed position. The format of the partnership allowed us to meet the needs of the stakeholders while minimizing bias in course coverage. Specifically, the professor defined a system based on students’ learning outcomes whereas company participants chose the proper system partition, the form-factor of the boards, and the architecture of each board. Several iterations followed with the goal to support the learning outcomes and use parts that best showcase the company products while also accounting for software availability and students’ level of preparation. In that respect, collaborating with former students proved invaluable. We could not meet all needs exclusively with company products, so the lab hardware also includes products of other manufacturers. This illustrates the partners’ understanding and commitment to the educational goals. The lecture part of the class presents an abstracted view of the material covered in the lab with only partial dependence on sponsor’s technology and technical materials. Besides alumni giving, this paper brings into a focus four other aspects of academic-industry collaboration examined in the literature: 1) industry-supported sabbaticals offer professors an opportunity for a professional growth with a long-term benefits to the university [Batson, 2015]; 2) IAB plays an important role in creating vibrant academic-industry collaborations [Davis, 2008]; 3) academic-industry partnership should extend beyond the commercialization and patenting of innovation and incorporate projects with broader social and economic impact [Filippetti, 2017]; 4) collaborative design of instructional materials, a new paradigm, is becoming an important form of academia-industry collaboration [Crepon, 2015].

Prodanov, V. I., & Greene, J. (2018, June), Alumni Grassroots Leadership Enables Sponsored Course Development Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29769

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