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Development And Assessment Of A Pcb Layout And Manufacturing Laboratory Module In Introductory Electric Circuits For Ee And Non Ee Majors

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Pedagogy and Assessment in ECE II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.391.1 - 15.391.17



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Paper Authors

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Albert Liddicoat California Polytechnic State University

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Jianbiao Pan California Polytechnic State University


James Harris California Polytechnic State University

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James G. Harris received his BS and MS in EE from UCB and the PhD in EE from Syracuse University. He was an Assistant Professor at Howard University, and an Associate Professor at the University of the District of Columbia, both in Washington, D.C. He is a Professor (emeritus) with the Department of Electrical Engineering, and the Computer Engineering Program at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. He served as the Department Head of the EE Department from 1982-89 and the Director of the Computer Engineering Program from 1993-97 and 2008-09. From 1990-92, he was a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. He worked for TRW in Redondo Beach, CA for 11 years, primarily on signal processing projects. He is a member of IEEE, ASEE, ACM, AAAS, ASES and SHOT.

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Gary Perks California Polytechnic State University

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Linda Shepherd California Polytechnic State University

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

Development and Assessment of a PCB Layout and Manufacturing Lab Module in Introductory Electric Circuits for EE and non-EE Majors


In standard introductory electric circuits laboratories for electrical engineering (EE) majors and non-EE majors, prototype boards are typically used to construct and test electric circuits. Students typically do not learn how to design and manufacture Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) that are commonly used in more sophisticated design projects and other engineering applications. This paper will present the development and assessment of a PCB layout and manufacturing laboratory module that has been used in introductory electric circuits laboratories for EE and non-EE majors. The feasibility of integrating the new PCB layout and manufacturing module into the electric circuit course will be discussed. An experiment has been designed and conducted to assess the impact of the PCB module. A survey with questions from the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) supplemented with additional questions was used to measure students’ motivation and the impact of the PCB module on student learning. In Winter quarter of 2009 at Cal Poly, two lab sessions for sophomore and junior non-EE engineering majors were taught by an instructor with an experimental group that designed a real PCB for one of their circuit design experiments and a control group that implemented all of the experiments using prototype boards. In Spring quarter of 2009 at Cal Poly, two lab sessions for EE majors at the sophomore level were offered by the same instructor with an experimental group that designed and built a PCB for one of their circuit design experiments and a control group that performed all experiments using prototype boards. Data have been collected and analyzed for these four student groups. Results indicate the inclusion of the PCB module did not impact the student’s ability to achieve any of the course or laboratory learning objectives. Though no statistically significant difference in student’s motivation was found between the experimental group and the control group, the results strongly indicate that students enjoyed the introduction of the PCB design module. Furthermore, students report they have a higher confidence in their ability to design printed circuit boards and they are more likely to design PCBs in other course projects as part of their senior projects.


Based on the experience of the Network Performance Research Laboratory (NetPRL) faculty at Cal Poly and feedback from Cal Poly’s computer engineering industry advisory board, a skills and knowledge gap exists between the engineering curricula and professional practice. Students in electrical and computer engineering are often not prepared to develop complex systems requiring custom printed circuit boards. The majority of electrical engineering programs teach basic electronics laboratories using solderless prototyping boards and circuit analysis using simulation software such as PSpice. There is a different skill set needed to design a prototype circuit as compared to designing and implementing an actual electronic device using Printed Circuit Board (PCB) tools and techniques.1, 2 To fill the gap, several universities started to develop electronic manufacturing laboratories and offer courses for electrical and computer engineering students.1, 3-9 But all of these courses are upper-division and most of them are technical electives.

Liddicoat, A., & Pan, J., & Harris, J., & Perks, G., & Shepherd, L. (2010, June), Development And Assessment Of A Pcb Layout And Manufacturing Laboratory Module In Introductory Electric Circuits For Ee And Non Ee Majors Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15786

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