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Introducing Information Technology Fundamentals Into The Undergraduate Curriculum

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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

5.408.1 - 5.408.9

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Robert J. Voigt

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

Session 2632

Introducing Information Technology Fundamentals into the Undergraduate Curriculum

Robert J. Voigt United States Naval Academy

Abstract We have been challenged to introduce our students to “information technology” as part of their undergraduate education. This is not an exercise in training people how to use a word processor, rather it is teaching the undergraduate student, from any discipline, the underlying fundamentals of the technology which pervades our daily lives. The genesis of the course is a result from a survey of senior people at Navy operational commands listing the top ten areas where our graduates could use more emphasis in their education. Of those top ten, we developed a course, which addressed seven of the areas. These areas include Networking, the Internet, Communications Theory, Software, Databases and the World Wide Web. The diversity of the topics and the target audience meant that we were not able to go particularly deep in any one area. One of our main goals was to bring a non-technically oriented student up to a conversational level on the topic areas and to provide them with a foundation and a desire to seek a deeper understanding on their own. The initial target audience for the course is anyone who has had two semesters of Physics. As a result, we had ten different majors in the first offering of the course, varying from History to Economics to Computer Science and Marine Engineering. The course is offered as a lab course in order to allow as much hands-on opportunity as possible. In this paper, we focus on the course topics we covered in hope that others who may face this daunting challenge may gain some insight. We attempt to show how we approached some of the more complex topics without the benefit of higher order math emphasizing the importance of cooperative and collaborative learning in this environment. We also hope to show why a course like this rightly belongs in the Electrical and/or Computer Engineering Department and the challenges that brings.

I. Background In 1997 a survey was sent out to the number one employer of our graduates, the operational Navy, known as "the Fleet." The twenty-question survey was sent out to the Commanding Officers and senior enlisted personnel on ships, submarines and aircraft squadrons. The survey was part of a larger curriculum review, the Curriculum 21 study panel, made up of people from both inside and outside of the Naval Academy. The purpose behind the convening of this panel was to review the overall curriculum and to see if our graduates were meeting the needs of our customer. Its other mission was an attempt to envision the future and see if the Academy was properly preparing for the needs of the service as we move into the 21st century. In other words, was the core curriculum adequate to meet the needs of both the present and the future Navy?

There were about 455 total responses, a 33% return rate. There were many form-based questions (agree/disagree) and a few questions which were open ended where the respondents were asked to provide their own answers such as “What academic disciplines are necessary for Junior

Voigt, R. J. (2000, June), Introducing Information Technology Fundamentals Into The Undergraduate Curriculum Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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