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Challenges Of Teaching Electrical Engineering Classes To Nonmajors

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

ECE Pedagogy and Assessment II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.313.1 - 14.313.13



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Paper Authors

author page

Aurenice Oliveira Michigan Technological University

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


Abstract The core curriculum for college degrees comprises a wide range of institutions, different areas of expertise, and levels of teaching. Nowadays, electrical engineering (EE) classes are part of the core curriculum of several other majors such as: mechanical engineering, mechanical engineering technology, computer network and system administration, surveying engineering, among others. Modern technologies are interdisciplinary and often require knowledge of several engineering fields. Students graduating from these majors must have at least a basic understanding of electrical engineering principles, since they will be working with electronic systems and devices in their careers. The students can be motivated by seeing how the EE principles apply to specific and relevant problems in their own field.

Most of us face the challenge of teaching both non-majors and majors, sometimes even in the same classroom. We are confronted by the task of conveying a general knowledge base to non-majors while simultaneously laying the foundation for continued study by majors. Teaching EE courses to non-EE majors may seem a trivial task for any experienced EE instructor. However, from the author’s experience, this task is usually more challenging that one may initially assume. If the instructor is not willing and able to do an excellent job of teaching freshman and sophomore engineering students, retention becomes an issue because it is during this critical freshman year that students are most likely to drop out of the system or change majors if they become disengaged with the learning process. In U.S., 50% of the students who enter engineering programs as freshman do not earn an engineering degree.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the main challenges and to share teaching methods that the author has used to encourage active learning and engagement among non-EE major students. The author addresses the use of technology for teaching, the use of lecture time effectively, the importance of well designed laboratory experiments, and use of basic simulation tools. Assessments of an introductory electrical engineering course taught following the author’s guidelines were performed to evaluate the teaching effectiveness, and they indicate that the teaching methods have been successful in meeting their objectives.

Oliveira, A. (2009, June), Challenges Of Teaching Electrical Engineering Classes To Nonmajors Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4523

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