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Introducing Communications to High School Students by Leveraging Zoom as a Communications Platform

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 9

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

17

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37378

Download Count

15

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Paper Authors

biography

Curt Schurgers University of California, San Diego

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Curt Schurgers is an Associate Teaching Professor in the UCSD Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. His research and teaching are focused on course redesign, active learning, and project-based learning. He also co-directs an undergraduate research program, Engineers for Explorations, in which undergraduates spearhead real-world engineering challenges that impact the world of exploration and resource conservation. Curt Schurgers received his B.S./M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) and his Ph.D. from UCLA.

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Yousol Bae Scripps Ranch High School

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Yousol is currently a senior at Scripps Ranch High School and will soon be a computer science major in university.

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Eugene Han Lee Canyon Crest Academy High School

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Eugene is a senior at Canyon Crest Academy and enjoys learning about many of the STEM topics including programming and mathematics.

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Che Nevarez Sweetwater Union High School District

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A 4th year Project Lead the Way educator in the Sweetwater Union High School District.

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Pamela Cosman University of California, San Diego Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-4012-0176

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Pamela C. Cosman received the B.S. degree with Honor in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1987 and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1993. In 1995 she joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, San Diego, and is currently a Distinguished Professor. She has published over 250 journal and conference papers in the areas of video compression and wireless communications, as well as one children's book, The Secret Code Menace, which introduces wireless communications concepts through a fictional story. She served as Director of the Center for Wireless Communications (2006-2008), Associate Dean for Students of the Jacobs School of Engineering (2013-2016), and Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications (2006-2009). Her awards include the 2016 UC San Diego Affirmative Action and Diversity Award, the 2017 Athena Pinnacle Award (Individual in Education), and the 2018 national diversity award of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association (ECEDHA). She is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi, and a Fellow of the IEEE.

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Abstract

Raising interest in STEM among high school students is an important continuing need. K-12 students have less exposure to electrical engineering (EE) than to many other STEM subjects. Within EE, the focus is often on introducing students to electronics, such as electrical circuits, microprocessor programming and system integration. However, EE spans a much broader spectrum. The topics of communications and networking are often not presented to high school students at all, and students are unaware of the fascinating challenges connected with careers in this direction.

The current pandemic, entailing remote education, offers a unique opportunity to teach communications and networking. Remote delivery platforms such as Zoom can be leveraged to illustrate communications and networking concepts in new interactive ways. Essentially, as a communication platform itself, Zoom allows us to be “hands-on” with these topics. For example: * Sharing the Zoom voice channel enables students to experiment with medium access techniques for contending in a shared medium. * Signaling with squares of gray shades demonstrates the trade-off between communication speed and reliability. Two-level signaling (black and white) transmits one bit per channel, whereas 4-level and 8-level gray squares allow higher data rates with lower reliability. * MIMO concepts of antenna diversity are introduced by having students observe others “transmitting” redundantly with gray squares from their own local lighting conditions and using a majority vote of the group of “receivers”. * Similarly, concepts of networking leverage Zoom chat features, with students sending private messages to each other in a predefined topology.

In this paper, we will describe our experiences with implementing a set of such remotely-taught modules on wireless communication and networking offered to high school students. These modules combine write-ups and interactive Zoom sessions that leverage Zoom features to engage students and have them experiment with the lesson concepts.

Effectiveness was evaluated through pre- and post-surveys of the intervention as whole, together with surveys after each module. In addition to serving as guides towards improving the program, the surveys aimed to gauge students’ views of EE and their interest in pursuing studies in this field, as well as the effectiveness of Zoom as a tool for offering this content. It is unclear whether student attitudes were affected towards engineering as a career, as the participating students were already showing a STEM-heavy focus. However, the modules were rated as interesting and interactive, and the effectiveness of leveraging Zoom features clearly stood out, indicating that these topics offer a unique opportunity in a remote environment. We will present these results and lessons learned. While the current pandemic-induced remote education situation will not endure indefinitely, we believe that these educational materials and approach will provide an ongoing opportunity to offer EE-centric STEM outreach to high school students in remote and rural areas who are often left out of university-based STEM outreach events and the many STEM events offered in cities.

Presentation preference = Regular presentation

Schurgers, C., & Bae, Y., & Lee, E. H., & Nevarez, C., & Cosman, P. (2021, July), Introducing Communications to High School Students by Leveraging Zoom as a Communications Platform Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37378

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