June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Electrical and Computer
Charged by the National Science Foundation with revolutionizing engineering and computer science education and departments, a diverse team of educators has been implementing changes that reimagine the roles of the faculty, moving away from teaching courses in isolation to an integrated, collaborative structure. Key faculty leaders are assigned as “Thread Champions” to interweave Foundations, Creativity, and Professional Formation threads throughout the program, while working with fellow faculty to continue fostering deep knowledge of the discipline and with “Integration Specialists” to synthesize content and illustrate how fundamental concepts are interrelated. These efforts span the entire undergraduate experience, with special attention to the critical technical core of the junior year.
Creativity thread is intended to integrate research, design, and optimization tools throughout the undergraduate experience, with an aim toward real-world engineering applications. Within this thread, we consider MATLAB as one of the most essential tools that all ECE students and future engineers should be able to use effectively. MATLAB® (by MathWorks, Inc.) is chosen not only for its very high quality and versatility, but because it represents a generally accepted standard in science and engineering education worldwide.
This paper presents inclusion of MATLAB-based instruction and learning in the electromagnetics course and learning studio modules (LSMs), where the students are implementing the core LSM concepts they learned into a “virtual electromagnetics testbed” using MATLAB, as part of the Creativity thread. The students are taught “hands on” electromagnetics through a unique and comprehensive collection of MATLAB computer exercises and projects. Essentially, they are learning MATLAB in the context of electromagnetics and learning electromagnetics in the context of MATLAB. Moreover, this approach actively challenges and involves the student, providing additional, prolonged benefits of learning as compared to a passive computer demonstration. By creating and/or running codes; generating results, figures, and diagrams; playing movies and animations; and solving problems in MATLAB students gain a stronger intuition and deeper understanding of electromagnetics, one of the most difficult subjects, primarily because it is extremely abstract. On the other side, these diverse MATLAB projects and exercises allow students to gain comprehensive and operational knowledge and skills in concepts and techniques of MATLAB use and programming, which can then be used effectively and implemented in other areas of study, including other courses in the curriculum.
In “Creativity” class sessions, students are given MATLAB tutorials, with ample discussions of approaches, programming strategies, MATLAB formalities, and alternatives. This is followed by comprehensive and rather challenging multi-week homework assignments of MATLAB problems and projects in electromagnetics. In addition, students are specifically asked to redo some of their conventional “by hand” computational problems they had for homework now using MATLAB and to thus experience firsthand the power and utility of MATLAB-based analysis and computation. In general, solving the problems and studying the topics both analytically and using MATLAB is most beneficial. We plan to expand the scope of “Creativity” MATLAB class sessions and the use of MATLAB to many more topics in electromagnetics classes, and to develop adequate assessment instruments for this approach.
Notaros, B. M., & McCullough, R., & Manic, S. B., & Maciejewski, A. A. (2017, June), Board # 51 : WIP: Introducing MATLAB-based Instruction and Learning in the Creativity Thread of a Novel Integrated Approach to ECE Education Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27872
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