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Introducing Circuit Design In Freshmen Lab

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.401.1 - 5.401.8

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Sheila Horan

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

Session 3125

Introducing Circuit Design in Freshmen Lab

Sheila Horan New Mexico State University


The electrical and computer engineering curriculum at the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New Mexico State University now requires that students successfully complete a capstone design class (senior design project) before they can graduate. To reach this point, students need guidance and practice in design. If students are exposed to design early in their educations, then the capstone project won’t seem like such an insurmountable chore, but more of an interesting challenge. In lab, freshmen are led through the basic principles, and then asked to think about and design circuits. Since this is lab, they can then check their designs by building the circuits and testing them. This then lays the foundation for continued projects that will lead to the capstone class. In this paper, the lab structure and ideas will be presented that encourages students to begin designing circuits.

I. Introduction

Many of the concepts of electrical engineering are based on simple concepts, however, if one has never experienced these concepts before, some of the relationships are difficult to visualize. In the course of re-evaluating the curriculum at the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New Mexico State University, (NMSU), the faculty decided to add a lab to the introductory circuits class so that the students can experience some part of electrical engineering early in their education at the university. This way, the students begin to feel a part of the department and get to see the basis for all of Electrical Engineering.

Many of the incoming freshmen at NMSU are not ready for calculus, or are just ready to begin first-semester calculus and so are required to fulfill their math obligations before taking Electrical Engineering, (EE), classes. This introductory circuits class is designed to use mostly algebra, and later in the course to use some basic derivatives. This way students can begin taking and experiencing EE before they finish the calculus sequence.

Many incoming freshmen also have not had the opportunity to tinker around with electronic components, and so have no “feel” for the basics that students 15 to 20 years ago seemed to have. Somehow they have missed knowing what a short circuit is and the damage it can cause. Much of this practical experience is no longer present in our incoming freshmen. At the capstone level, it has been noted that students don’t really know what they need to do. They lack insight and experience into design and planning a substantial project.

This freshman level circuits class has been designed to give this hands on experience that has been found lacking. Students who complete this class will have had exposure to simple design problems that build the foundation for future design projects. This paper will describe the labs

Horan, S. (2000, June), Introducing Circuit Design In Freshmen Lab Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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