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Incorporating Studio Techniques with a Breadth-First Approach in Electrical and Computer Engineering Education

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies: Electrical and Control Engineering

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count

23

DOI

10.18260/p.25661

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/25661

Download Count

92

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Paper Authors

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Harry Courtney Powell University of Virginia

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Harry Powell is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Virginia. After receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering in1978 he was an active research and design engineer, focusing on automation, embedded systems, remote control, and electronic/mechanical co-design techniques, holding 16 patents in these areas. Returning to academia, he earned a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2011 at the University of Virginia. His current research interests include machine learning, embedded systems, electrical power systems, and engineering education.

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Maite Brandt-Pearce University of Virginia

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Maite Brandt-Pearce is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Virginia. She received her Ph.D. from Rice University in 1993. Her research interests include nonlinear effects in fiber-optics, free-space optical communications, optical networks subject to physical layer degradations, and biomedical and radar signal processing. She has over 150 major publications.

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Ronald D. Williams P.E. University of Virginia

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Ronald Williams is a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Virginia. His teaching responsibilities have typically been in the area of digital systems, embedded computing, and computer design. He has recently been actively involved in the redesign of the undergraduate electrical engineering curriculum. His research interests have focused on embedded computing for control and signal processing.

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Robert M. Weikle University of Virginia

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Robert M. Weikle, II received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering and physics from Rice University, Houston, Tex., in 1986 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1987 and 1992, respectively. In 1993, he joined the faculty of the University of Virginia where he is currently a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research group focuses on submillimeter electronics, terahertz devices, high-frequency instrumentation and metrology, and quasi-optical techniques for millimeter-wave power combining and imaging.

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Lloyd R. Harriott University of Virginia

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Dr. Harriott is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium Professor in The Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. He received the PhD degree in Physics from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1980 and joined Bell Laboratories that same year. At Bell Laboratories he was Director of Advanced Lithography Research in the Physical Sciences Research Division. He joined the ECE department at University of Virginia in 2001 and was appointed Department Chair in 2003 and served until 2012 in that capacity. His research interests include nanofabrication, nanoelectronic devices and Engineering Education.

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Abstract

The breadth of topic material in all branches of engineering is expanding at a rapid pace, none more so than in electrical and computer engineering. For example, molecular electronics barely existed as a topic even ten years ago, and the proliferation of high-speed wireless networking has been rapidly accelerating. While understanding Kirchhoff's laws is still necessary, it is equally imperative to give students a sense of breadth. As electrical engineering design moves to a more systems-level approach, it is still necessary for students to assess the performance of the individual devices that comprise the system and how they interact. Equally important is the necessity of being able to work with actual devices in a hands-on sense. When we expose students to component models without giving them an experiential context for their application, we run the risk that they will never develop a sense of what happens when the model limits are exceeded, and the implications that might have on an overall systems level design. Also, we run the risk of overwhelming them with theory and having them lose interest altogether. We are addressing these issues with a new course sequence for electrical and computer engineers, the Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering Series, a 3-course sequence. These courses replace our prior sequence of courses for 2nd and 3rd-year students: Circuit, Electronics, and Signals and Systems. Each of these new courses takes a breadth-first approach to electrical engineering topics and is taught studio style, with the laboratory component being tightly interlocked with the formal lecture material. We have previously reported on our work in the Fundamentals 1 and Fundamentals 2 courses and have now offered both several times. We are also through the first iteration of Fundamentals 3. In this paper, we present our findings on how the overall sequence intertwines, and what modifications to the earlier courses in the sequence were made as a result of our later experiences. We also go into detail on how our overall methodology has resulted in pedagogical approaches that encourage broad system level understanding through planned sequences of experimental modules and projects. For example in Fundamentals 3, the modules include sequences of experiments that address understanding of subsystems, i.e. active filters, with the expectation that these subsystems will be assembled into a complete design for a major project. We also move from the continuous time transforms and analysis techniques of Fundamentals 2 to their discrete-time counterparts. Each module is separately studied, and the limits of performance are exposed while making students broadly aware of how each one fits into the larger picture of the overall project. The culmination of the study of the individual subsystems is a complete project that incorporates each of the prior elements. For Fundamentals 3, this is a digital EKG monitor in which students specify performance goals, develop the analog subsystem including a printed circuit, and interface it with an industry-standard digital signal-processing platform.

Powell, H. C., & Brandt-Pearce, M., & Williams, R. D., & Weikle, R. M., & Harriott, L. R. (2016, June), Incorporating Studio Techniques with a Breadth-First Approach in Electrical and Computer Engineering Education Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25661

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