June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
13.843.1 - 13.843.13
LEARNING ANALOG ELECTRONICS THROUGH PROJECT- BASED INVESTIGATION OF FM COMMUNICATION CIRCUITS
Since historically much of the early development of analog electronics took place in the communication field present, day students’ understanding of electronics can be enhanced by working with FM communication circuits. Students majoring in the electrical and computer engineering concentrations at our university are required during their junior year to take a three- hour lecture course and a two-credit-hour lab course in analog electronics. By the end of the courses, students learn the theory and application of such components as diodes, Zener diodes, NPN and PNP transistors, MOSFETs, SCR’s Diacs, Triacs, and optoelectronic devices.
New experiments have been added to the electronics lab to enhance understanding of basic analog components. This project investigated the effects on the students’ learning of analog electronics by having them develop an FM transmitter and an FM receiver circuit much earlier than they are prepared to handle them. Electronic communication circuits are studied in detail a semester later in the second electronic course and RF theory is introduced a year later in the communication courses. The objective for the student was to discover how the electronic components studied in class can be placed together in an FM transmitter to work as: a signal amplifier, local oscillator, FM modulator, frequency multiplier, and power amplifier at the final output stage. In an FM receiver they see the components working as: an RF amplifier, local oscillator, FM mixer, IF amplifier, FM detector, output audio amplifier and automatic frequency control circuit. Students also learned to appreciate the modular nature of complex designs.
At the end of the semester, a survey was given to determine the results on student learning concerning the concepts and applications of electronics. The results of this project may prompt the implementation of other projects that may include multidisciplinary collaboration, integration of projects between classes, projects across concentrations, and integration of a single project from the freshman to the senior year.
Lecture-based training is known to address only certain learning styles. The use of design projects provides the students with a broader context to the material learned in class. With project-based learning students shift from a passive to an active learning pattern that is likely to improve knowledge retention as well as the ability to integrate material from different courses 
Like many undergraduate engineering schools in the nation, our university emphasizes a hands- on approach in engineering education. From the beginning of the freshman year to the senior year, students participate in different levels of engineering projects, from LEGO Mindstorms designs, to conducting a research project. Each project provides the students with the opportunity
Ortiz, O., & Leiffer, P. (2008, June), Learning Analog Electronics Through Project Based Investigation Of Fm Communication Circuits Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3840
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