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Circuits for a Multidisciplinary Engineering Student Mix

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2020 Mid-Atlantic Spring Conference


Baltimore, Maryland

Publication Date

March 27, 2020

Start Date

March 27, 2020

End Date

March 28, 2020

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Harold R Underwood Messiah College

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Dr. Underwood received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 1989, and has been a faculty member of the engineering Department at Messiah College since 1992. Besides teaching Circuits, Analog Electronics, Electromagnetics, and Communications Systems, he supervises engineering students in the Communications Technology Group on credited work in the Integrated Projects Curriculum (IPC) of the Engineering Department, and those who volunteer via the Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research. His on-going projects include improving flight tracking and messaging systems for small planes in remote locations and enhancing a fluency assistance device to mitigate speech impediments.

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An engineering program with multiple disciplinary degree offerings at a smaller school often requires a core course such as circuits with a multidisciplinary range of students. A previous paper addressed the rationale of combining digital with analog circuits in a one-semester first course for the multidisciplinary audience, an educational innovation that we have successfully implemented for several years now with the support of a custom text. Other techniques that further improve teaching and learning with student diversity include active, cooperative and inductive strategies (Felder & Brent). This paper presents five years of results by introductory multidisciplinary circuits students on the Determining and Interpreting Resistive Electric circuits Concept Test (DIRECT by Engelhardt, et al.) as a pre- and post-test diagnostic of learning. This has been administered in conjunction with the Circuit Tutor online tool (Skromme) as an active learning supplement to homework and lectures. The most and least learned analog circuits concepts at this introductory level will be discussed. Besides the Circuit Tutor tool, additional examples will be provided to illustrate methods of enhancing engagement with student diversity by varying the presentation mode, such as 1) graphically highlighted applications at the start of class to introduce new material, 2) demonstrations to clarify and emphasize key issues, 3) concept questions to stimulate student inquiry and diagnose understanding, 4) incentivized homework collaboration, 5) enhanced homework problem context adapted to engineering disciplines in the class and 6) improvised lab strategies. This paper will provide results from the authors experience, include some work in progress, and recommend future work needed to benefit engineering educators who face similar multidisciplinary challenges.

Underwood, H. R. (2020, March), Circuits for a Multidisciplinary Engineering Student Mix Paper presented at 2020 Mid-Atlantic Spring Conference, Baltimore, Maryland.

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