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Frequency Domain Concepts for EE Freshman

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Recruitment, Retention and First-year Programs in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.617.1 - 23.617.10

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Paper Authors

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Christina Howe University of Evansville


Dick Blandford University of Evansville

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Dick Blandford is the Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Evansville.

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Frequency Domain Concepts for EE FreshmanAbstractA major component in the retention of students for any program is to get the students excitedabout the field they have chosen to study. At the University of Evansville, EECS is a combineddepartment that has programs in electrical and computer engineering, and in computer science.The first engineering course, required of all freshmen, is a three-credit course called Engr 101.One of the main objectives of this course is to awaken students to the exciting possibilities allthree disciplines offer. Another main objectives of this course is to assist the students in choosingwhich discipline best fits their skills and interests. We get a significant number of major changesbetween the three disciplines during the first year. As a result, we have made the first yearnearly identical for all three majors and we make an effort to teach all students what each of thethree disciplines is about in Engr 101. Engr 101 therefore has three parts: one for electricalengineering, one for computer engineering, and one for computer science. Each part takes one-third of the term and all three parts are taught in parallel with instructors rotating about every 12to 14 class days.In electrical engineering, the challenge is this: What can you teach freshmen in 12 lectures whichwill give them a good idea of what electrical engineering is about and allow them to make anintelligent choice of major? This paper presents a solution to this problem that has been wellreceived by students and has good assessment data for the first year. In addition, we present thetopical outline for the computer engineering and computer science portions of the course.The focus of the EE portion of the course is frequency domain concepts in linear systems and theimplementation involves the use of MATLAB®, difference equations, the Fourier transform, andsound files. Since freshmen do not have the math background of our juniors we view the Fouriertransform as a correlation between sine and cosine functions and an input signal. MATLAB®allows for easy manipulation of difference equations, the z-transform need not be mentioned, andthe course has no time for theorems or proofs.Sound files present an easy way to introduce real data into the course and all students are able tosee the frequency spectrum of sounds in their environment. In a final project they determine thespeed of a passing automobile by observing its Doppler shift as it passes. Through this projectstudents gain an appreciation of the exciting real-world problems that they can solve with adegree in electrical engineering.

Howe, C., & Blandford, D. (2013, June), Frequency Domain Concepts for EE Freshman Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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