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Are Our Toolkits As Exciting As We Think They Are?

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

ERM Potpourri

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.215.1 - 9.215.10



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Paper Authors

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Jeremy Linder

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Murat Tanyel

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

Session 3630


Murat Tanyel, Jeremy Linder Geneva College


In a recent web teleconference that the senior author attended, it was reiterated that the instructor needs to be aware of his/her own learning style as well as the students’ to reach all types of learners effectively. Without a conscious effort, the instructor teaches in a style that is most comfortable for him/herself. This discussion elicited a query as to the effectiveness of the instructional tools used in class. The senior author has developed a number of “toolkits”, computer simulations written in LabVIEW, to provide virtual laboratories in DSP and Communication Systems courses. He is quite enthused about these toolkits, but how do the students regard them? A questionnaire taken in last year’s class resulted in positive comments as well as constructive suggestions. This paper will report on the students’ involvement in the development of the Communication Systems toolkit through their feedback. It will summarize the reactions of two different classes at different institutions to the same toolkit. It will also report on the efforts taken to address the constructive suggestions and describe the effect of student involvement on the project on learning in the classroom from a student’s perspective.

I. Introduction

As the senior author reflects on the development of electrical engineering education from his undergraduate years to its current state, he notes the proliferation of computer applications as the most significant development. A few years ago, he listed a number of applications that have become widespread computer tools in electrical engineering textbooks: Spice and its derivatives in courses that cover circuit analysis and electronics; MATLAB in Control Systems, Communication Systems and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) 1. In addition to these tools, graphical programming environments such as LabVIEW and HP VEE have become popular for many applications. The change in these tools since then has been the enhancement of the graphical interface. The C programming language, which replaced FORTRAN in the electrical engineering curriculum during the senior author’s career development, has made the transition to Visual C++. MATLAB, which is the main staple of courses involving linear systems, has developed its graphical interface, namely, SIMULINK. PSpice, which is used to simulate analog circuits, now makes extensive use of graphical interfaces.

Given this computationally rich environment and his previous involvement with developing graphical computer aided tools for DSP in 1980s2 and for laboratory instruction in the engineering undergraduate curriculum in 1990s3, it was a natural step for the senior author to

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Linder, J., & Tanyel, M. (2004, June), Are Our Toolkits As Exciting As We Think They Are? Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13927

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