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Porting a University Introduction to Design Course to a Semester Long High School Course Based on Open-Source Hardware and Arduino - Evaluation

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Evaluation: Exploring High School Engineering Education Initiatives

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1230.1 - 26.1230.5



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Paper Authors


Jacob L. Segil University of Colorado at Boulder

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Jacob L. Segil is an Instructor for General Engineering Plus and Mechanical Engineering degree programs at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a Bioengineering focus from the University of Colorado Boulder, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. Segil researches brain-machine interfaces, neural prosthetic devices, and engineering education.

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Brian Huang Sparkfun Electronics

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Brian Huang is an Education Engineer for SparkFun Electronics, an open-source hardware and electronics education company. He started his career in engineering with wireless transport technologies for ADC Telecommunications in Minneapolis. While working at ADC, Huang volunteered at the Science Museum of Minnesota and quickly discovered a passion for teaching and working with students - especially in an environment that fostered and supported the “wow” factor associated with inquiry and discovery. For the past 5 years, Huang has taught various levels of high school physics, mathematics, applied technology, and robotics. He joined Sparkfun Electronics to help integrate “tinkering,” electronics, and computational thinking into the classroom. Huang has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a Master's in Education from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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Beth A Myers University of Colorado Boulder

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Beth A. Myers is the engineering assessment specialist for the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a B.A. in biochemistry and an M.E. in engineering management and is currently a Ph.D. candidate studying engineering education at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. She has worked for the University of Colorado in various capacities for 16 years, including as a program manager for a small medical research center and more recently as Director of Access and Recruiting for the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Her interests are in quantitative and qualitative research and data analysis.

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Lindsay Diamond SparkFun Electronics

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Lindsay Diamond is the Director of Education at SparkFun Electronics, an open source hardware company with a keen interest in STEM education. Lindsay received her Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Applied Physiology from University of Colorado, Boulder and a Doctorate in Biomedical Sciences from University of Florida College of Medicine.

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Porting a University Introduction to Design Course to a Semester Long High  School Course Based on Open­Source Hardware and Arduino   For over a fifteen years, a freshman level Introduction to Engineering Design course at [University] has provided an experiential hands­on design experience that has been shown to significantly improve retention of engineering students.  This course introduces a variety of engineering disciplines including mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering using both formal delivery of technical curriculum and hands­on design projects.  We leveraged the impressive retention results of this course in order to develop a high school level Introduction to Engineering Design course based on  products from SparkFun Electronics.  This course focuses on aspects of design, iteration, and problem­solving utilizing many free or low­cost open­source hardware and software tools including products from SparkFun Electronics. Understanding that students in high school engineering or pre­engineering programs are very different from those enrolled at a University, we made several adaptations and adjustments to the original course. In addition, we understand that many high schools do not have access to the same materials, tools, and resources that most University programs do. Taking these into mind, we adjusted and modified the course to fit into an average high school classroom.  In fact, the course can be taught in a classroom with only power outlets and community/personal computers. Our methodology and rationale will be discussed in detail.  This Introduction to Engineering Design course walks students through the design process using newer technologies like Arduino, Sketch­Up, and the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit.. These are tools that will help students prototype, visualize, and create exciting engineering projects in both high school and beyond.  This Spring, we are piloting this program in a local high school with four sections of Pre­Engineering Freshman Design and two sections of Introduction to Computer Science. The high school is currently using Project Lead The Way (PLTW) as their primary curriculum for pre­engineering. Our aims are to compare and assess the advantages and growths of using our materials as well as identify changes in attitude, retention, college outlook, and engineering identity. 

Segil, J. L., & Huang, B., & Myers, B. A., & Diamond, L. (2015, June), Porting a University Introduction to Design Course to a Semester Long High School Course Based on Open-Source Hardware and Arduino - Evaluation Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24567

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