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Full Paper: Integrating the iPad Into the Engineering Classroom

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2021 First-Year Engineering Experience



Publication Date

August 9, 2021

Start Date

August 9, 2021

End Date

August 21, 2021

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Paper Authors


Michael Cross Norwich University

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Michael Cross is an Assistant Professor 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. Virginia Military Institute

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Dr. Feinauer is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Military Institute. 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, system identification, and energy resilience fundamentals. 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 holds a PhD and BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kentucky.

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Beginning in 2016, the University embarked on the Digital Citizen Initiative with the goal of including an iPad as standard issue for all students and faculty. From 2016 to 2019, pilot programs were conducted to test the use of the iPad in both classroom and laboratory settings. In the Fall of 2019, all incoming first-year students at the University were issued an iPad along with an Apple pencil and protective cover. Laptop-, tablet-, or Chromebook-per-child programs are becoming more and more prevalent in P-12 environments. As today’s students matriculate to college, they expect a technology-rich learning environment that is an improvement from what they experienced in their primary and secondary education. Mobile computing has become more commonplace in many industry and professional settings. As we work to educate future professionals, it is important that the on-campus experience is preparing students for life after the University. The file management improvements to the iPad combined with the creation of an active stylus, the Apple pencil, have created a powerful mobile productivity platform that can be useful in the traditional ECE classroom.

The authors performed a pilot study on the use of the iPad in multiple ECE courses, including Circuits and Electronics. Initially, the iPads were used to perform homework digitally, allowing for easy integration with the University’s learning management system (LMS). Based on the results of this pilot, the use of the iPad has been expanded to include the use of the iPad for circuit simulation, hand sketching, and digital lab notebooks. The authors have also used the iPad for assignment grading, again allowing for improved assignment feedback, modernized grading workflows, and efficient integration with the University’s LMS.

In this paper, insights into the use of the iPad in the ECE classroom will be discussed, including student perceptions from the pilot program. Example student work will be included to compare work completed on the iPad to work traditionally composed on paper. The authors’ thoughts on further integration possibilities will also be discussed. Ultimately, the iPad has been seen as a value-additive augmentation to the ECE classroom by many students.

Cross, M., & Feinauer, D. M. (2021, August), Full Paper: Integrating the iPad Into the Engineering Classroom Paper presented at 2021 First-Year Engineering Experience, Virtual .

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