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NSF CCLI: An Applied Quantum Mechanics Course Aligned with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Curriculum

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1109.1 - 22.1109.13

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Paper Authors


Stella A Quinones University of Texas, El Paso

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Dr. Stella Quiñones is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) where she has been a faculty member for the past 13 years. She is the Forest O. and Henrietta Lewis Professor in Electrical Engineering and is a 2010 UT Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award recipient. Dr. Quinones was also selected as an innovative early-career engineering faculty to participate in the Frontiers of Engineering Education (FOEE) symposium in Dec. 2010. Her current research areas include planar and nano-scale selective CdTe deposition on patterned CdTe(111), Si(100), Si(211) and SOI substrates using a conventional close-spaced sublimation (CSS) technique for applications related to solar cells and infrared detectors. Her educational activities include an NSF funded Course Curriculum Laboratory Improvement grant to develop an Applied Quantum Mechanics Course for Electrical Engineers in addition to collaborations with Purdue University on an NSF Network for Computational Nanotechnology grant to develop educational materials associated with the simulation of semiconductor devices using the website.

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Benjamin C. Flores University of Texas, El Paso

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Dr. Benjamin C. Flores joined the faculty of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in 1990 after receiving his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University. He is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Acting Dean of the Graduate School. He has held several administrative positions including Associate Dean for Graduate Studies for the College of Engineering, Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and Interim Chair of the Computer Science Department.

Dr. Flores is an expert in retention strategies for non-traditional undergraduate and graduate students in the STEM disciplines. From 1999 to 2007 he was the Project Director of the NSF supported Model Institutions for Excellence Initiative. Currently he is Director of two NSF funded programs: the UT System Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, the Bridge to the Doctorate Program. Through his work on student retention issues, he has gained international recognition as an expert in the effectiveness and impact of strategies for access to higher education. He regularly consults with other institutions, nationally and abroad, on these issues.

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B. Lush University of Texas, El Paso


Gabriel Della-Piana Evaluation Consultant

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Gabriel Della-Piana is Professor Emeritus in Educational Psychology from the University of Utah. He is currently a consultant on program design, development and evaluation in educational programs and projects. Most recently (Jan 2003 to Jan 2007) he was Program Director at the National Science Foundation in the Directorate of Education and Human Resources on an IPA (Interagency Personnel Agreement). From 1992 to 2003 he was Director of Curriculum Development and Evaluation with the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence at the University of Texas at El Paso evaluating science, technology, and mathematics initiatives geared to getting more minority students into the pipeline for college. He has taught mathematics in grades 7 & 8; taught instructional design and evaluation at the University of Utah; was visiting professor in these areas at UCLA, Harvard, University of lllinois, and Miami University of Ohio. Recently was consultant to BBC World Trust on evaluation workshop for field workers in India. Has over 85 refereed publications and 75+ reports and presentations. Conducted evaluation and program development in language literacy (across subject disciplines); various forms of mediated instruction across subject disciplines in science, mathematics, and literacy; mathematics, science, and technology; parenting (mothers and underachieving middle school female students); homeless education; a planetarium production; training of teachers of teachers; and writing assessment.

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Denise Carrejo, Ph.D. University of Texas, El Paso Center for Institutional Evaluation, Research, and Planning

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An Applied Quantum Mechanics Course Aligned with the Electrical and Computer Engineering CurriculumAn Applied Quantum Mechanics course for engineers was developed and integrated with theElectrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) curriculum to improve student learning,performance, and affective behaviors. Previously, undergraduate ECE students were required totake a Modern Physics course offered by the Physics Department in which relativity andquantum mechanics were treated separately and without a clear connection to the ECEcurriculum. The objectives for the new course are to (1) improve student cognitiveunderstanding of fundamental quantum mechanical concepts, (2) improve affective behavior ofstudents associated with the learning experience of quantum mechanics, (3) motivate students toenroll in advanced devices courses, (4) improve student success, retention and graduation rates,and (5) increase the number and diversity of students enrolling in fields and devicesconcentration courses.The course was aligned with the existing Electronic Devices course by connecting wavebehavior and quantum theory to the physics and design of solid state devices. Severalinstructional practices were incorporated to improve the student learning experience. First, aspiral teaching model incorporated fundamental quantum concepts with the operation of devicessuch as quantum dots and resonant tunneling diodes. Second, a peer-led team learning modelencouraged active learning in and outside of the classroom, and finally, computer simulationsand software tools provided visualizations of both fundamental and applied quantum concepts.The course structure was subdivided into four parts: Electron Modeling and SemiconductorMaterials; Electromagnetic Waves; Schrödinger Equations and Quantum Applications; andAdvanced Applications: Quantum Dots, Tunneling, Zener Diodes and Resonant TunnelingDiodes.The assessment plan for the course included student performance measures (i.e., enrollment,withdrawals, reduction in elapsed time between quantum mechanics and device courses, andfinal grades in the new course compared with Modern Physics); a review of self-reportedlearning gains, reactions, and attitudes on a Self-Assessed Learning Gains (SALG) measurebased on Seymour, Wiese, and Hunter (2000), concept inventory (under construction) and focusgroups. In addition, the How I Work Inventory (HIWI) and a Work Preference Inventory (WPI)were used to assess the effects of motivation and self-regulation on student performance and todevelop a performance commitment pathway in which these two variables influenceachievement. The course was taught for the first time in the Spring 2010 semester, and initialresults indicate that the course will help meet the learning needs of future electrical engineers, asdemonstrated by student participation and completion and the reactions and attitudes of students.The assessment of knowledge and skills as shown by a concept inventory in quantum mechanicswill continue to be developed. Student-student interactions and the workshops were mentionedas important learning resources. The assessment also indicated that there is room for the additionof more advanced course material for students at the high end.

Quinones, S. A., & Flores, B. C., & Lush, B., & Della-Piana, G., & Ph.D., D. C. (2011, June), NSF CCLI: An Applied Quantum Mechanics Course Aligned with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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