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Integrating The Hobby Shop, A Non Conventional Freshmen Lab, Into The Electrical Engineering Curriculum

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Design in the ECE Curriculum

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.930.1 - 12.930.9



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Paper Authors

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Hassan El-Kishky The University of Texas-Tyler

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Ralph Hippenstiel The University of Texas-Tyler

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Integrating the Hobby Shop, a Non-conventional Freshmen Lab, into the Electrical Engineering Curriculum

ABSTRACT: This paper presents interim results of a project aimed at increasing the enrollment and retention of engineering students through the development and integration of a broad-based hands-on, design and development lab, the Hobby Shop, into the introductory electrical engineering course at the University of Texas, Tyler. The introductory course in our electrical engineering (EE) program was redesigned based on the Hobby Shop as the core component. A library of projects, circuits, and systems was compiled and added to the course material and made accessible to the students enrolled in the course. Moreover, a set of practical hands-on workshops such as hands-on soldering workshops were developed and added to the course contents. Feedback from students who went through the first Hobby Shop based introductory EE course was collected and analyzed. Furthermore, the use of the Hobby Shop as a tool to boost recruitment effort is also discussed in the paper.

I. Introduction

Declining enrollment figures and poor retention rates are signs of a distorted picture of engineering education. The retention of engineering students is a very difficult problem [1]. Demanding engineering curricula and ill-prepared students are often cited for poor retention and graduation among engineering students. The problem is even more significant amongst underrepresented minority groups. Lack of proper academic mindset and attitude for success and very limited computer skills were cited as main challenges for incoming engineering students [2]. Also, lack of experience in bringing an engineering design concept to a working prototype and poor written oral communication skills significantly contribute to the retention problem [2].

The Electrical Engineering (EE) Department of the University of Texas at Tyler (UT-Tyler) is part of the College of Engineering and Computer Science and has been in existence for 9 years. Our first graduating class was in May 1999, consisting of students who completed their pre- engineering coursework at the area junior colleges. The first graduating class to include students that completed all four years at UT-Tyler was in the year 2003. The EE program was granted accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in the fall of 2002 which was a milestone in the development of our program. In an attempt to boost the enrollment university-wide, UT Tyler created the position of the Dean of Enrollment that has a variety of active recruitment programs under his office. In a continued effort to increase freshmen retention rates, the university added the “Freshman Experience”, a non-credit course that is designed to help make a smooth transition from high school to college environment. Other steps to increase retention were taken by the university such as forming freshmen study groups and a variety of counseling services. The success rates of these efforts in retaining and graduating electrical engineering students are however far below the average university-wide. One approach this paper is reporting on to increasing retention rates of incoming freshmen electrical engineering students is to address the student’s “perception and expectation of electrical engineering” as well as find ways to match the students “expectations” without compromising the theoretical foundations in the EE curriculum [3].

El-Kishky, H., & Hippenstiel, R. (2007, June), Integrating The Hobby Shop, A Non Conventional Freshmen Lab, Into The Electrical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3013

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