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Macroelectronics: A Gateway To Electronics Education

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.696.1 - 6.696.10



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Paper Authors

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Stephen Dyer

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Robert Krchnavek

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John Schmalzel

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Shreekanth Mandayam

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

Session 1526

Macroelectronics: A Gateway to Electronics Education

S. A. Dyer,1 J. L. Schmalzel,2 R. R. Krchnavek,2 and S. A. Mandayam2

Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering 1 Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506 2 Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ 08028

Abstract Conventional approaches to teaching electronics and instrumentation emphasize microelectronics instead of providing a more general, systems-level approach. We have shifted the focus in the first electronics course from individual devices and circuits (microelectronics) to the system as a whole (what we term macroelectronics). Our preliminary experience with the concept was positive at our respective institutions; a grant1 allowed us to develop the approach more fully.

The macroelectronics approach can be summarized as consisting of two primary elements: (i) treatment of topics chosen by the instructor—later complemented by topics derived from student projects, and (ii) utilization of a project-based learning environment to increase motivation, highlight important topics, and facilitate knowledge-integration.

Materials developed to support the macroelectronics approach include an instructor’s manual and a variety of exemplar project descriptions.

Introduction An electronics course is a standard component of an electrical engineering (EE) program. The numerous texts to choose from (see Refs. 1 and 2, for example) are typically organized along traditional lines. Nonlinear devices are considered, beginning with diodes and spanning transistor technologies (BJTs, FETs, MOSFETs, etc.). Basic circuit topologies are presented, followed by progressively more complex circuits to form primitive functions. Feedback is treated along the way, as are other topics such as digital circuits. Most curricula also include an electronics laboratory, which may not be tightly coupled to the electronics course.

We are strongly motivated to change the way we approach teaching. ABET’s Criteria 20003, the ASEE report, “Engineering for a Changing World”4, and discussions with engineering practitioners all are asking us to change the way engineering is taught. Material must be relevant—ever more important as the pace of technological innovation escalates. The educational process must be outcomes oriented—we need to decide what we want our students to learn and then see if they learn it. Fresh graduates should be

1 The support of the National Science Foundation (DUE 9981139) is gratefully acknowledged. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not represent NSF positions or policies.

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Dyer, S., & Krchnavek, R., & Schmalzel, J., & Mandayam, S. (2001, June), Macroelectronics: A Gateway To Electronics Education Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9527

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