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Embedding Core Skills in First-Year Engineering Students with Applications in Embedded System Design

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2018 FYEE Conference


Glassboro, New Jersey

Publication Date

July 24, 2018

Start Date

July 24, 2018

End Date

July 26, 2018

Conference Session

Technical Session V

Tagged Topic

FYEE Conference Sessions

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Paper Authors


Michael Cross Norwich University

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Michael Cross is a Lecturer of Electrical and Computer Engineering teaching classes in the areas of circuits, electronics, energy systems, and engineering design. Cross received degrees from the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Vermont and began his academic career at UVM where he taught courses in the areas of analog and digital circuits, electronics, semiconductor physics, power electronics, and engineering design.

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David M. Feinauer P.E. Norwich University

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Dr. Feinauer is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Freshman Engineering Coordinator at Norwich University. His scholarly work spans a number of areas related to engineering education, including P-12 engineering outreach, the first-year engineering experience, and incorporating innovation and entrepreneurship practice in the engineering classroom. Additionally, he has research experience in the areas of automation and control theory, and system identification. His work has been published through the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE); he is an active member of both organizations. He serves as advisor to the student entrepreneurship club and as the State Partner for the FIRST LEGO League Program—a nationally recognized program that incorporates robotics with innovation and community engagement. He holds a PhD and BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kentucky.

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Engineering students at the University have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience throughout their studies. This begins in the first semester as students engage in a common-engineering experience built around a 2-hour lecture and 3-hour laboratory course. In this course, students explore the engineering profession and develop competency with professional and technical skills that unite all engineers across all disciplines. They practice these skills in lab exercises with applications drawn from the disciplines of the institution: Civil Engineering/Construction Management, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. During their second semester, students take a discipline-specific 2-hour lecture, 3-hour lab course where they delve deeper into their chosen program of study and career path. In this paper, we will discuss how an embedded systems approach is used to further showcase fundamental and future areas of study for Electrical and Computer Engineering students at the University. In the laboratory portion of the course, students develop technical and professional lab skills as they use simple benchtop equipment and the Arduino microcontroller to explore fundamental areas of electrical engineering including circuits, electronics, electric machines, power electronics, control systems, signals/sampling theory, programming fundamentals, and basic logic. Examples of such exercises include: sampling a basic DC voltage divider output, sampling analog time-varying signals and converting PWM digital signals to analog voltages, controlling the operation of a brushless DC motor, exploring the use of a boost converter and automatically compensating for voltage input fluctuations, and developing a portable spectrophotometer to study water quality in third-world countries. These experiences provide a foundation of skills to support the students in their more advanced courses; they are a rich common set of experiences for instructors to reference throughout the more advanced courses, they connect students to the School of Engineering, and they serve as motivating, mastery experiences for the students early in their academic careers. Following the presentation of the pedagogical course design, a discussion of student attitudes and lessons learned from multiple course executions will be presented.

Cross, M., & Feinauer, D. M. (2018, July), Embedding Core Skills in First-Year Engineering Students with Applications in Embedded System Design Paper presented at 2018 FYEE Conference, Glassboro, New Jersey. 10.18260/1-2--31396

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