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Integrating Interdisciplinary Project-Based Design Streams into Upper-Level Electrical Engineering Courses: A Methodology toward Implementing Applications-Oriented, Associative Project Streams into Electrical Engineering Courses

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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

Design Pedagogy and Curriculum 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.774.1 - 23.774.8

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Paper Authors


Scott Anthony Grenquist Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Scott Grenquist is currently performing Sabbatical Research in interdisciplinary, project-based-learning techniques at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and The University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He is also concurrently an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts. Scott received his doctorate from Curtin University of Technology in Perth, WA, Australia, his MSEE and BSME from The University of Notre Dame, and his BA in Modern Languages (Japanese) also from The University of Notre Dame. Scott has worked in Elementary Particle Physics at The University of Notre Dame, taught Mechanical Engineering Technology at Purdue University, taught Physics at The University of Newcastle in Australia, taught Engineering and performed research at The Instructional Software Design Center at The University of Missouri-Rolla and has taught Electrical Engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston for the past 15 years.

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AbstractIn early September, 2010, the first upper-level, engineering course to include a semester-long, parallelAssociative Project Design Stream (APDS) in its curriculum was introduced into the ElectromechanicalEngineering Course Offerings in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Technology at WentworthInstitute of Technology. That first course to include a semester-long APDS was ELEC 443, Analog CircuitDesign. The assessment of the semester-long APDS was 15% of the students’ overall assessment for thecourse, thereby making it a non-insignificant portion of their final course grade. However, even though theassessment was only 15% of their overall grade, it was found that the students allocated approximately 30%of their total time toward working on their semester-long APDS. By all accounts, the integration of thesemester-long APDS into the course was an overwhelming success in the case of the Analog Circuit Designcourse. Due to that success, it was decided to methodically expand the semester-long APDS into both other“design” and “non-design” courses throughout the curriculum. Simultaneously, there would also beconstant analysis of all aspects of the APDS program implementation. This methodical approach was takenin order to both tailor the semester-long APDS to individual courses, as well as to discern the most optimummethod of implementing the semester-long APDS into existing “non-design” courses. Eight months later,during the Summer Semester of 2011, two semester-long APDS’s were integrated into two engineering“non-design” courses, ELEC 496, Advanced Sensors and Interfacing Systems, and ELEC 486, ComputerSystems Architecture. Following the successful implementation of those respective semester-long APDS’sinto those two “non-design” courses, the following semester, Fall Semester 2011, another semester-longAPDS was integrated into another engineering “non-design” course, ELEC 586, Motors and Controls. In theSummer Semester of 2012, the semester-long Associative Project Design Streams that had been previouslyintegrated into the courses “Advanced Sensors and Interfacing Systems” and “Computer SystemsArchitecture” were further refined, with a view toward implementing reforms into the semester-long APDSstructure that would allow better coordination of the design projects by the instructor, as well as to allowbetter integration of the APDS into the overall composition of the respective courses. This paper discussesthe multitude of reasons for the original integration of the semester-long APDS into upper level courses(authentic learning practices, project-based learning, teamwork building, communication skills), as well asthe problems and benefits of integrating the semester-long APDS into historically “non-design” courses.The paper also analyzes the efficacy of the later reforms that were incorporated into the semester-longAPDS structure, dependent on the feedback encountered after their initial integration.

Grenquist, S. A. (2013, June), Integrating Interdisciplinary Project-Based Design Streams into Upper-Level Electrical Engineering Courses: A Methodology toward Implementing Applications-Oriented, Associative Project Streams into Electrical Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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