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Integrating Computational Thinking in an Interdisciplinary Programming Course for Engineering Undergraduates

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ASEE 2021 Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference


Waco, Texas

Publication Date

March 24, 2021

Start Date

March 24, 2021

End Date

March 26, 2021

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Paper Authors


Prabha Sundaravadivel The University of Texas at Tyler

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Dr. Sundaravadivel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, at the University of Texas at Tyler. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of North Texas, Denton in 2018. She earned her Masters of Technology (M.Tech) in VLSI design from VIT University, India, in 2015 and Bachelors of Technology (B. Tech) in Electronics and Communication from SRM University, Chennai, India, in 2011.

Currently, she is working with a diverse multi-disciplinary research group of Graduates, Undergraduates, and High Schoolers as the Director of the Intelligent Systems Laboratory (ISL) at UT Tyler. As a Faculty at the University of Texas at Tyler, she has been involved in outreach activities in East Texas to broaden participation in STEM.

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With current technology advancements, the primary focus on today’s engineering problems is in automating the systems. This can start from a simple automated temperature monitoring system in a home environment to advance Industrial automation using drones and robots in real-time. These advancements have been a major drive for job opportunities and have opened doors for interdisciplinary research across all domains of Engineering. Due to the huge scope of the problems in the current modern world, Engineering solutions are becoming increasingly software-driven. Hence there is a high demand for Engineers who can drive their solutions using software tools and various programming languages. To help our Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Undergraduates with necessary programming skillsets, the EENG 2301 Programming Languages for Design course was designed in Spring 2020. This course included hands-on coursework designed to teach the high-level programming languages and modern Engineering tools required for modeling, analyzing, and designing projects. The curriculum was centered around integrating Computational Thinking (CT) through a project-based learning approach. CT is a problem-solving learning process that can improve the thought process of the learners. As introduced by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), CT involves 4 main corner-stones through where students break down complex problems into smaller, simpler problems and derive solutions with the required details. In this paper, the effectiveness of incorporating CT in the early stages of programming is discussed as a strategy to improve the confidence and engagement of students. This course was taught as an in-person and online course at the University of Texas at Tyler.

Sundaravadivel, P. (2021, March), Integrating Computational Thinking in an Interdisciplinary Programming Course for Engineering Undergraduates Paper presented at ASEE 2021 Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference, Waco, Texas.

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