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Eleg 488 V Special Problems: A Means To Implement Undergraduate Research

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.162.1 - 2.162.6

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Juan Carlos Balda

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

Session 2532

ELEG 488V − SPECIAL PROBLEMS: A MEANS TO IMPLEMENT UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH Juan Carlos Balda Department of Electrical Engineering University of Arkansas Fayetteville AR 72701 Telephone: (501) 575-6578, E-mail:

ABSTRACT − The paper describes a more intensive use of ELEG 488V − Special Problems, a senior-elective course, as a mean to implement (undergraduate) research when a faculty member faces the dilemma of performing research work with dwindling research budgets, satisfying companies having close ties to the University with small projects with no budget, and also preparing those undergraduate students interested in power engineering to perform independent work or even pursue graduate studies. The projects addressed by the students are closely associated with “real-world” problems; in fact, most problems come from industry. In this manner, the bridge between the university “theoretical” world and the industrial “real” world are brought a little closer. This methodology is proving very beneficial to both the undergraduate students and this faculty member as explained in the paper.


In general, university faculty are having difficulties in (1) attracting sufficient research dollars from industry and/or government due to different varying reasons, and (2) satisfying research sponsors with limited research dollars. Thus, it is becoming more difficult to perform research work in two or more related topics. At the same time, industry is placing more requirements upon engineering graduates in order to face the new challenges imposed by a very competitive (world) market. One of these requirements is that engineering graduates should carry out relevant projects in an independent manner within a short period of time after their graduation dates. The “over-crowding” and “down-sizing” of the engineering curriculums are making it difficult to teach the skills required to successfully carry out projects independently. At most engineering departments, the learning of these required skills normally takes place in a senior capstone design course.

This paper focuses on the efforts by this faculty member from the Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville to develop “hands-on” laboratory experiments and/or perform research work while allowing some undergraduate students interested in the power engineering area to gain knowledge on a power topic not offered in our power courses and acquire the skills to carry out a project in an independent manner. This is done through ELEG 488V − Special Problems, a senior-elective variable-credit course, whose catalog description states that it consists of individual study and research on a topic mutually agreeable to the student and a faculty member.

Balda, J. C. (1997, June), Eleg 488 V Special Problems: A Means To Implement Undergraduate Research Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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