Asee peer logo

Lab In A Box: Experiments In Electronic Circuits That Support Introductory Courses For Electrical And Computer Engineers

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.859.1 - 10.859.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

KaMing Lai

author page

James Webb

author page

Robert Hendricks

Download Paper |

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

Lab-in-a-Box: Experiments in Electronic Circuits That Support Introductory Courses for Electrical and Computer Engineers

Robert W. Hendricks, Ka Ming Lai, and James B. Webb

Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA


The objective of Lab-in-a-Box is to give the student hands-on experience with wiring and analyzing simple circuits, but in such a way as to allow the experiments to be performed at home or at a study table with simple, relatively inexpensive, student-owned equipment rather than in a traditional university laboratory. Each experiment is designed to be performed using a breadboard, resistors, capacitors, inductors, transformers, and op amps. Some measurements are made with a digital multimeter, while signal traces for time-varying signals (transients) are observed using software that allows the students to convert a PC equipped with a sound card into a simple oscilloscope. Student responses to survey questions following the first implementation of the concept are very positive, thus encouraging the authors to further develop the concept.


An introduction to electric circuit theory and analysis lies at the foundation of electrical and computer engineering and is one of the first courses taught in the curriculum. In about half of the programs at major universities this subject is covered in a single-semester course, while in the other half it is presented in a two-semester course. Regardless of duration, in only a few schools is there an accompanying laboratory course. This is, no doubt, a result of the trend for compression of the curriculum, the large number of students, and the very high cost of equipping and staffing the requisite laboratories.

Apart from the debate about the duration of the introductory circuits course, there is also a great divergence of opinion concerning the proper time to introduce modeling languages and programs such as PSpice and MatLab into an EE/CpE curriculum. Under the auspices of an NSF- sponsored department-level review (DLR) grant1, our department has recently given a great deal of consideration to these questions. One outcome of this review has been a complete restructuring of our introductory circuits offerings2.

It is well-documented that students have a wide range of learning styles3,4. Engineering students are no different. Felder and Smith have developed a taxonomy of these learning styles5 while Felder has compared this taxonomy to three other common descriptions including the Myers- Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI), the Kolb taxonomy, and the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) 6. Of particular significance is research on gender and ethnicity differences in

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Lai, K., & Webb, J., & Hendricks, R. (2005, June), Lab In A Box: Experiments In Electronic Circuits That Support Introductory Courses For Electrical And Computer Engineers Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14355

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015