June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Design in Engineering Education
14.418.1 - 14.418.9
Design of a flexible RF data link and associated laboratory curriculum in a first analog electronics and devices course Abstract
A flexible low cost digital RF/IR communication link is described with an accompanying curriculum. The construction of the data link is intended to provide a jumping off point for students to explore electronics in a design-oriented, project-based first electronics class. The challenges of covering a core analog electronics curriculum to enable students to continue in the field and yet provide a rich design experience that will inspire students to remain in the electronics specialization are discussed. The course placement within the undergraduate curriculum is considered and the impact of this type of course on the prerequisite and post- requisite courses presented. Student acquisition of skills is assessed anecdotally and empirically.
Traditional approaches to engineering education have introduced students to real-world design in a scattered manner with limited exposure to design practices.1 A deficiency has been noted to exist at the sophomore and junior core course levels where design processes are not sufficiently addressed early on.2 In an attempt to make engineering more appealing to a wider number of students, introductory courses with significant design, build, and operate content are becoming much more prevalent.1-4 In addition, ABET 2000 has ensured that a summative design experience has been put into practice in most engineering programs.
Project-based learning has been shown to motivate students to learn actively.3 As a result, motivation, focus, and exposure to real-world, open-ended problem solving enhances the student experience. Both management and hands-on techniques are brought to bear on these projects. Introducing design projects in introductory courses increases motivation and creative thinking skills, especially when design is targeted toward realistic projects. In addition, the project focus early on serves to better prepare students for their capstone design projects in their senior year.1
To address the issues of a traditional engineering curriculum, the authors are part of a recent curriculum redesign in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. This redesign is funded by the National Science Foundation and is centered upon the theme of Integrated Sensing and Information Processing (ISIP).4 The redesigned curriculum has focused on real-world problems as a means for the successful training of modern engineers. The theme of ISIP has been implemented in the development of the first-year design experience which introduces students to all aspects of the Electrical and Computer Engineering curriculum (ECE 27 Fundamentals of Electrical and Computer Engineering).5 In an attempt to revitalize the electronics curriculum, the subsequent core ECE courses have been completely redesigned. These include the four major areas of ECE: Devices and Circuits, Digital Electronics, Electromagnetic Fields and Waves, and Signals and Systems. Following these courses, upper- level electives including full-scale design projects and laboratory experiences have been developed.6 With only one course in the core curriculum to introduce the entire field of microelectronics, the amount of time available to convey electronics theory has been dramatically reduced. To address the challenge of getting students to practice meaningful
Coonley, K., & Brooke, M., & Ethier, P., & Massoud, H. (2009, June), Design Of A Flexible Rf/Ir Data Link And Associated Laboratory Curriculum In A First Analog Electronics And Devices Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5680
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