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Innovative Engineering Outreach: Capacitive Touch Sensor Workshop

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session


Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.757.1 - 24.757.11



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Paper Authors


Bradley Lance Pirtle University of Oklahoma

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Bradley Pirtle is a student at the University of Oklahoma where he is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering and a Master's degree in Computer Science. Bradley's research focuses on using machine learning to generate more effective control systems for multi-agent robotic systems. While not conducting research, Bradley spends his time promoting interest in science and engineering amongst prospective middle school and high school students.

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Chad Eric Davis P.E. University of Oklahoma

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Chad E. Davis received the B.S. degree in mechanical engineering, M.S. degree in electrical engineering, and Ph.D. degree in engineering from the University of Oklahoma (OU), Norman, in 1994, 2000, and 2007, respectively. Since 2008, he has been a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) faculty, University of Oklahoma. Prior to joining the OU-ECE faculty, he worked in industry at Uponor (Tulsa, OK), McElroy Manufacturing (Tulsa, OK), Lucent (Oklahoma City, OK), Celestica (Oklahoma City, OK), and Boeing (Midwest City, OK). His work experience ranges from electromechanical system design to automation of manufacturing and test processes. His research at OU involves GPS ground-based augmentation systems utilizing feedback control. Dr. Davis holds a dual discipline (electrical and mechanical) professional engineering license in the state of Oklahoma. He currently serves as the faculty advisor for Robotics Club, the Loyal Knights of Old Trusty, and Sooner Competitive Robotics at OU and he serves as the recruitment and outreach coordinator for OU-ECE. He received the Provost's Outstanding Academic Advising Award in 2010 and the Brandon H. Griffin Teaching Award in 2012.

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Jessica E Ruyle University of Oklahoma

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An Oklahoma native, Dr. Jessica Ruyle graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2006. While at Texas A&M University she completed three internships with Sandia National Laboratories and was President of HKN. She moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for graduate school. She completed an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in 2008 and a Ph.D in 2011. Her graduate research has resulted in two patent filings. The first patent, the culmination of her masters research, was for a pattern reconfigurable microstrip antenna. The second patent resulted from her doctoral research and was for a placement insensitive RFID antenna. Her technical research interests lie in the development and characterization of new electromagnetic devices and platforms such as antennas and packaging to improve the performance of wireless systems in challenging environments. She is also interested in broadening participation in electrical and computer engineering (ECE) by determining better ways to recruit young women to the profession and retaining women in ECE programs.

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Innovative Engineering Outreach: Capacitive Touch Sensor WorkshopAbstract:The United States is rapidly falling behind internationally in STEM recruiting. Currently,only 16 percent of American high school seniors are interested in a career in STEM. TheModel Institutions for Excellence (MIE) chosen by the NSF have proven the efficacy ofsummer science camps for recruiting high school students into STEM fields.One such camp was hosted at our University during the summer of 2013. Amongst themany projects available for the students to complete was the Capacitive Touch SensorWorkshop. During this project, students constructed a functional touch keypad using onlyan Arduino and household supplies, such as cardboard, aluminum foil, and tape. At theconclusion of the project, students were able to take their completed keypads home alongwith a flash drive that included all of the software and information they would need toimprove or modify their device. This not only allowed students to create an exciting,useful, and functional tool from scratch, but also provided a mechanism for exploringnew ways to program the device and learn more about important ECE topics such ascapacitance and electricity.The School of ECE at our University has been actively engaged in creating a diverse setof innovative hands-on ECE activities for summer camps and outreach events over thelast five years. As a result of this recruiting strategy, ECE undergraduate enrollment atour university increased from 246 students in Fall 2008 to 428 students in Fall 2013. Thisdramatic increase shows evidence that the Capacitive Touch Sensor Workshop and otherslike it have been effective in motivating students to consider a major in ECE (a necessaryfirst step in improving STEM recruitment). This paper will provide the necessary detailsfor this hands-on activity to be replicated so that others can use it to motivate students tochoose ECE as their field of study.

Pirtle, B. L., & Davis, C. E., & Ruyle, J. E. (2014, June), Innovative Engineering Outreach: Capacitive Touch Sensor Workshop Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20649

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