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Computer Building Seminar For Engineering Students

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.286.1 - 6.286.5

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Paper Authors

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Bruce Segee

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Isaac Horn

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

Session 1520

Computer Building Seminar for Engineering Students

Isaac Horn, Bruce Segee University of Maine


When comparing today’s first-year computer engineering student with one of five to ten years ago a troublesome trend can be observed. Although today’s students have used Personal Computers (PCs) longer, by and large, they have never touched (or even seen) the inside of a PC. This is a reflection of the changing role of the PC from a hobby item for the technically inclined, to a household appliance not to be broken. Based on that premise a seminar was developed to familiarize students with the inner workings of a standard desktop PC, while also offering the opportunity for them to walk away with a new computer system that they have built themselves. The systems are designed to suit the needs of an engineering student. These features include but are certainly not limited to power, flexibility, expandability and ease of upgrade. In the process of this seminar the student is led through the process of assembling a computer from scratch. During this time the functionality and features of each component are discussed. Once the hardware is assembled we introduce the operating system and installation procedure. The function of an operating system is discussed along with benefits and drawbacks of the various options. Students are allowed to pick their operating systems and the seminar continues with each student configuring his or her own computer. The outcome is that students end up with a high performance, upgradable computer without the mystique or apprehension that they may have felt about family computers. Furthermore, this exercise helps students understand the roles of the various components, hardware and software, and allows them to make informed decisions in the future.

I. Introduction

Our goal in this seminar was to offer students in our engineering department an opportunity to assemble their own high performance PC from parts. The computer constructed was to be adequate enough to be a single machine solution for the average student but also be easily upgraded and fine-tuned for the specific needs of each student in their field.

In the construction process of this computer the students learn what each component does and how it contributes to the operation of the whole machine. This additional working knowledge of computers will allow the students to identify and perform upgrades to this computer in the future as technology changes, as well as be able to build additional computers in the future.

II. Course Structure

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Segee, B., & Horn, I. (2001, June), Computer Building Seminar For Engineering Students Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015