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Electronics Engineering Technology Curriculum At A Thinkpad University

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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

6.413.1 - 6.413.12

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Michael Rudisill

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

Session 3547

Electronics Engineering Technology Curriculum at a Thinkpad University

Michael D. Rudisill Northern Michigan University


Northern Michigan University became the largest public university to be an IBM Thinkpad University in the Fall of 2000. Each student was issued a laptop (only freshmen and sophomores were mandatory for the first year) during registration complete with a “standard” software package. The challenge is to fully utilize the laptops - not necessarily in Web-based courses, on-line courses or distance education scenarios, but normal face-to-face courses taught to on-campus students. There are obvious advantages to every student having the same computer and software, however there are also challenges in fully integrating the laptop into the curriculum and making the student feel that the investment they have made in leasing the laptop is worthwhile. This paper presents some of the techniques used by the author in integrating the laptops into the courses offered in the fall and winter semesters. It also looks at the feedback obtained from students as to their comfort level with the laptops and their view of the value of the laptops in the curriculum.

I. Introduction

In August 2000 Northern Michigan University (NMU) distributed approximately 4500 IBM Thinkpads to students enrolling for the fall semester. A standard software package including Microsoft Office 2000 Premium Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, FrontPage, Access, Outlook), MS Internet Explorer 5.5, MS Outlook Express, MS Netware Client, Eudora Pro 4.3.2, LPR (TCP/IP printing support), Cisco Wireless Card, Norton AntiVirus, Aladdin Expander, Adobe Acrobat, RealPlayer, and Windows MediaPlayer was included with each laptop. In addition some software was available only for students taking certain classes (e.g. Visual Basic for students taking a Visual Basic programming class).

The challenge for the faculty was to integrate the laptops into the curriculum in the most efficient manner from both an educational and the student’s perspective. This was not a matter of making the course a Web-based course or self-study course but a trying to integrate the use of the laptops into a regular college course.

There are really two goals. The obvious one, from the educator’s perspective, is to maximize the learning, but from an institutional standpoint this is only part of the problem. The student is paying to lease the laptop and if they do not feel they are getting their money’s worth then the retention of current students and recruitment of new students will suffer. These are not really

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Rudisill, M. (2001, June), Electronics Engineering Technology Curriculum At A Thinkpad University Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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