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Collaborative Research: Center for Mobile Hands-on STEM

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.360.1 - 26.360.5



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Paper Authors


Kenneth A Connor Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Kenneth Connor is a professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering (ECSE) where he teaches courses on electromagnetics, electronics and instrumentation, plasma physics, electric power, and general engineering. His research involves plasma physics, electromagnetics, photonics, biomedical sensors, engineering education, diversity in the engineering workforce, and technology enhanced learning. He learned problem solving from his father (ran a gray iron foundry), his mother (a nurse) and grandparents (dairy farmers). He has had the great good fortune to always work with amazing people, most recently professors teaching circuits and electronics from 13 HBCU ECE programs and the faculty, staff and students of the SMART LIGHTING ERC, where he is Education Director. He was ECSE Department Head from 2001 to 2008 and served on the board of the ECE Department Heads Association from 2003 to 2008.

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Kathleen Meehan Virginia Tech

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Kathleen Meehan earned her B.S. in electrical engineering from Manhattan College and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois under the supervision of Prof. Nick Holonyak, Jr. She worked as a member of technical staff at Lytel, Inc., following graduation. At Polaroid, she was appointed a Senior Research Group Leader, responsible for the design of laser diodes and arrays. After leaving Polaroid, she was employed at Biocontrol Technology. She moved into academia full-time in 1997 and worked at the University of Denver, West Virginia University, and Virginia Tech. She is currently the director of the University of Glasgow-University of Electronic Science and Technology of China Electronics and Electrical Engineering programme. While at Virginia Tech, she collaborated with Dr. Robert W. Hendricks, with assistance of a number of undergraduate students, to develop an instructional platform known as Lab-in-a-Box, which is used in a number of courses within the Virginia Tech B.S.E.E. program. She continues to be actively involved in the development of mobile hands-on pedagogy as well as research on other topics in STEM education, the synthesis and characterization of nanoscale optical materials, and fermentation processes.

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Bonnie H. Ferri Georgia Institute of Technology


Deborah Joy Walter Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Deborah Walter is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She teaches courses in circuits, electromagnetics, and medical imaging. Before joining academia in 2006, she was at the Computed Tomography Laboratory at GE’s Global Research Center for 8 years. She worked on several technology development projects in the area of X-ray CT for medical and industrial imaging. She is a named inventor on 9 patents. She has been active in the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in engineering and currently PI for an NSF-STEM grant to improve diversity at Rose-Hulman.

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Yacob Astatke Morgan State University

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Collaborative Research: Center for Mobile Hands-on STEMRemarkable progress has been made in the development and implementation of hands-onlearning in STEM education. The mantra of See One, Do One, Teach One overly simplifies theidea but does provide a helpful structure to understand how many engineering educators areattempting to change the learning experience of our students. Until recently, this effort has beenfaced with a major limitation. While we can easily incorporate traditional paper and pencil andnumerical analysis, synthesis, and simulation in our classrooms, the remaining key aspect ofdoing the job of an engineer – experimentation – has only been included through the use ofexpensive and limited-access lab facilities. Small, low-cost Mobile Hands-On STEM (MHOS)learning platforms (e.g., myDAQ, Analog Discovery, and Circuit Gear Mini) provide almostunlimited opportunities to solve this remaining problem in engineering courses. Pedagogy basedon these tools has been implemented and studied in several institutions in the US and in othercountries, impacting thousands of students each year. In all cases in which hands-on learning hasbeen studied, the pedagogy has been successfully implemented, even in traditionally theory-onlybased courses, with more engaged students and instructors. Although the initial assessments ofthis new approach to STEM education argue for broad application, the definitive case for itsadoption has yet to be documented so that all STEM educators can fully appreciate its merit.The Center for Mobile Hands-On STEM is pursuing activities that support the following goals: • gather strong evidence of the effectiveness of Mobile Hands-On STEM (MHOS) pedagogy on student learning • develop an effective and pro-active dissemination strategy for the entire STEM educational community.To achieve these goals, we have recently focused on: • creating and implementing new standardized assessment tools that measure student learning, especially through the development of new experimentally focused concept inventories, as well as measure ease of adoption by instructors. • identifying implementation barriers for wide-spread adoption and how these might be overcome by applying the business start-up methodology of the NSF I-Corps program, working with faculty who have recently received funding to implement the mobile pedagogy, and holding focus groups among different constituencies.Both of these general areas of activity represent works-in-progress. In the former we areinvestigating formulations of concepts and possible learning and assessment activities andcollecting data on their effectiveness and feedback from faculty interested in MOHS pedagogy.For the latter, we have had a group of our colleagues go through I-Corps training as part of apilot program to determine whether the I-Corps model could be used to expand the impact ofeducational research. In addition, strong collaborative relationships have been developed withnew groups who are aggressively implementing similar pedagogy throughout all of theirengineering programs. Progress and problems will be presented in this paper.

Connor, K. A., & Meehan, K., & Ferri, B. H., & Walter, D. J., & Astatke, Y. (2015, June), Collaborative Research: Center for Mobile Hands-on STEM Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23699

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