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An Engineering Team Approach To Mentoring Graduate Students Through Projects

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.159.1 - 10.159.11



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Matthews

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Perry Heedley

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

An Engineering Team Approach to Mentoring Graduate Students through Projects

Perry L. Heedley and Thomas W. Matthews

Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering California State University, Sacramento


This paper describes a new approach to the mentoring of graduate students through their master’s projects recently developed at California State University, Sacramento in the area of integrated circuit (IC) design. Student engineering teams were formed to design, layout and test two separate pipelined analog-to-digital converter chips and a specialized biomedical chip. The goal of each team was to build a complex mixed-signal system on a chip comprising several diverse circuit blocks, with each student taking responsibility for a particular block. The students were guided through a complete industrial style IC design flow, including architecture, design and layout reviews. The unique challenge of this approach for the instructor is to guide the students to design their individual blocks while insuring that the overall system requirements are met. For the students, the advantages of this approach include the experience of working together as a team, the ability to work on larger designs than a single student could do alone, and the understanding gained of several different circuit blocks. The methodology and pedagogical techniques developed for this approach as well as a number of challenges which were overcome along the way will be described. An overall assessment will be presented based on technical results achieved, student exit interviews and feedback from industry experts.

I. Introduction

Over the last decade, pressures to decrease time-to-market for new products have forced the semiconductor industry to adapt, moving to the formation of ever-larger design teams to develop integrated circuits (ICs). For example, in a recent development effort, a team of 20 engineers worked on the analog portion of an IC. Of that team, 5 engineers (including the authors) designed the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) portion of the IC. This is in sharp contrast to the development of a very similar IC immediately preceding this one, in which a total of 5 engineers worked on the entire analog portion and only a single engineer designed the ADC.

This trend has increased the importance of teamwork and communication skills for new engineering graduates, and has received attention from bodies such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)1. Employers value prospective employees with teamwork experience2.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Matthews, T., & Heedley, P. (2005, June), An Engineering Team Approach To Mentoring Graduate Students Through Projects Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14981

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