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Electrical and Computer Engineering Curriculum Integration through Engineering Projects on a Centralized Platform

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2020 ASEE North Central Section conference


Morgantown, West Virginia

Publication Date

March 27, 2020

Start Date

March 27, 2020

End Date

May 20, 2020

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Ramakrishnan Sundaram Gannon University

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Dr. Sundaram is a Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Gannon University. His areas of research include computational architectures for signal and image processing as well as novel methods to improve/enhance engineering education pedagogy.

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This paper discusses how engineering projects developed on a centralized engineering project platform can integrate the undergraduate Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) courses across four-year ABET-accredited programs. This integration is viewed as an essential step to produce engineering graduates with skills that make them competitive in the global workforce. Typically, the courses in the ECE curriculum are taught as discrete units in relative isolation of each other. This approach does not effectively deliver the critical-thinking competencies that are required by the students at the system, sub-system, and component level for the design and validation of engineering projects. Through the creation and adaptation of new learning materials and teaching pedagogy, the ECE department at our University believes that curriculum integration through integrated projects on a central platform has the potential to transform undergraduate STEM education. The problem-based, project-based, and project-enhanced learning environment created by integrated projects enables students to work in teams and apply the principles of electrical engineering to solve problems at different levels of system integration. This is similar to what the student would experience in the workforce after graduation. The centralized engineering platform will not only link the content of courses taught across the four-year undergraduate curriculum but will also promote vertical integration of the course content with faculty research projects identified on the platform. In this manner, undergraduate students gain valuable research and project experience as part of their curriculum as they become engaged in faculty research projects alongside faculty and advanced level students. This engagement will grow as they advance from the first year to the senior year because they will have gained, and more importantly, retained the knowledge, comprehension, analysis, and synthesis skills from their integrated project experiences. In addition, this strengthens the alignment of the ECE undergraduate curriculum with the cognitive domain of Bloom’s taxonomy. The creation and adaptation of new learning materials and teaching pedagogy will inspire students to adopt goal-oriented, self-directed learning (SDL) strategies in addition to instructor-driven learning thereby enabling them to become better lifelong learners. The centralized engineering project platform creates the environment akin to that in the engineering industry wherein senior-level students guide the junior-level students. This relationship shares some of the attributes observed in industry with senior, junior, and entry-level engineers. Through the centralized engineering project platform, the ECE department takes on the identity of an ECE organization. In this organization, the faculty members of the ECE department, besides being traditional classroom educators, assume the role of integrated project managers. As a manager, the faculty member delegates responsibilities to the student and coordinates the project activities of the student teams. The students in the ECE program can be viewed both as four-year employees of the ECE workforce and as customers who pay for value-adding educational experiences.

Sundaram, R. (2020, March), Electrical and Computer Engineering Curriculum Integration through Engineering Projects on a Centralized Platform Paper presented at 2020 ASEE North Central Section conference, Morgantown, West Virginia.

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