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Enhancing The Undergraduate Design Experience With Surface Mount Soldering And Printed Circuit Board Techniques

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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

DELOS Best Paper Nominations

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.518.1 - 15.518.12



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Paper Authors


Kip Coonley Duke University

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Kip D. Coonley received the B.S. degree in physics from Bates College, Lewiston, ME, in 1997 and the M.S. degree in electrical engineering from
Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, in 1999. Following graduation from Dartmouth, he developed electronically controlled dimmers for fluorescent and incandescent lamps at Lutron Electronics,
Coopersburg, PA. From 2001 to 2005, he was a Research Engineer at RTI International, where he designed high-efficiency thermoelectrics using epitaxially grown superlattice thin-film structures. Since 2005, he has been the Undergraduate Laboratory Manager in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University, Durham, NC. His interests include undergraduate engineering education, power electronics, plasma physics, and thin films.

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Lisa Huettel Duke University

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Lisa G. Huettel received the B.S. degree in engineering science from Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, in 1994 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Duke University, Durham, NC, in 1996 and 1999, respectively. She is currently an Associate Professor of the Practice in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University, where she also serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Her interests include engineering education and applications of statistical signal processing.

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

Enhancing the Undergraduate Design Experience with Surface Mount Soldering and Printed Circuit Board Techniques


In 2006, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University rolled out extensive revisions to the undergraduate curriculum. One of the overarching goals of the curriculum reform was to provide students with practical experiences solving realistic challenges from their freshman introductory course through their senior design course. As a direct result of these curricular modifications, goal-oriented and design-focused projects have become the norm, rather than the exception. Within a year of the reform, students taking courses as part of the revised curriculum were designing projects using the very latest available integrated circuits and software. As student projects increased in sophistication, a growing need for state-of-the-art Surface Mount Technology (SMT) facilities and Printed Circuit Board (PCB) etching capabilities was recognized. To support these projects, an SMT facility with PCB etching capability was developed. The use of SMT and PCB etching techniques enables students to pursue much more complex and creative design projects using current, industry-standard technology. The introduction of SMT/PCB facilities has had a significant impact across the entire undergraduate curriculum, from sophomore year core courses through senior design projects, and has improved the overall educational experience and outcomes.


Recent curriculum redesign in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University funded by the National Science Foundation has focused on real-world problems as a means for the successful training of modern engineers. The redesigned curriculum provides our students with more opportunities for hands-on experiences in applying theory to practical applications.1 Project-based learning is a central driver in this process which has been shown through prior work to motivate students to learn actively.2 It has also been shown that introducing design projects in introductory courses increases motivation and creative thinking skills, especially when design is targeted toward realistic projects3. In addition, the introduction of extensive project assignments and discussion of design skills early and often in the curriculum serves to better prepare students for their capstone design projects in their senior year.4

Student surveys and focus groups conducted in conjunction with the ECE curriculum reform efforts indicated a desire for more project design and practical implementation opportunities. Similarly, feedback from industry has suggested that our students would benefit greatly from additional occasion to apply theory to practice through design projects. This feedback motivated a number of reform initiatives relevant to the SMT/PCB laboratory including: 1) developing a new, first-year introductory course with a significant design component, 2) revising the core curriculum, increasing the amount of design students encounter early in the curriculum, and 3) revising current, and offering new, design courses with an increased focus on realistic design, more sophisticated implementation techniques, and the continued development of skills such as project management and communication.

Coonley, K., & Huettel, L. (2010, June), Enhancing The Undergraduate Design Experience With Surface Mount Soldering And Printed Circuit Board Techniques Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16408

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