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Project Based Learning For A Digital Circuits Design Sequence At Hbcus

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Learning Needs and Educational Success

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1193.1 - 12.1193.12



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Paper Authors

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James Northern Prairie View A&M University

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John Fuller Prairie View A&M University

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

Project-Based Learning for a Digital Circuits Design Sequence at HBCUs


In today’s globally competitive business environment, technology-based companies are looking for and expect to hire workers who have the skills necessary to successfully perform in a changing knowledge-based society. Minority students of today enter an increasingly globalized world in which technology plays a vital role. They must be good communicators, as well as great collaborators. The new work environment requires responsibility and self-management, as well as interpersonal and project-management skills that demand teamwork and leadership. It is essential that academic institutions equip future graduates with the essential skills to be an integral part of this change. In traditional classrooms, students typically work on simple assignments that emphasize short-term content memorization. They work individually and rarely have the opportunity to make presentations. Project-based learning (PBL) is designed to put students into a students-as-workers setting where they learn collaboration, critical thinking, written and oral communication, and the values of work ethic. PBL applied to Digital Circuits and Design Sequence (DCDS) courses addresses the need to provide undergraduate electrical and computer engineering students with such capabilities as they relate to real-world applications. This strategy addresses the goal of improving the quality of undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education through new learning techniques and teaching strategies. The goal of the DCDS is to improve student learning of theoretical concepts in digital circuitry through project-based learning exercises using a field programmable gate array (FPGA) platform for rapid prototyping of complex designs. FPGA-based platforms offer real-time prototyping of complex digital designs, allowing system verification and optimization in an environment that resembles the target system. DCDS relates and connects student learning in laboratory sessions that traditionally involve isolated and stand-alone activities. This paper focuses on the introduction of PBL using rapid prototyping to an introductory course in Logic Circuits. The rapid prototyping design sequence will be applied to several undergraduate engineering courses with the intent to help prepare students for industry or research through application-driven exercises. DCDS objectives are to (1) Create laboratory exercises for hands- on experience to enhance students’ conceptual learning; (2) Link theory-based learning to real- life applications; (3) Increase retention of technical material for future courses; (4) Improve laboratory skills of students; and (5) Improve student confidence and attitude about their future profession. The development of an improved course sequence to successfully engage students in designing digital circuits and applying this knowledge to the real world has the potential to impact other such courses elsewhere. Project-based learning in a DCDS will benefit populations underrepresented in the field of engineering. Also, several academic institutions, including community colleges and K-12 schools have been identified as institutions that could benefit from the activities of DCDS.

Northern, J., & Fuller, J. (2007, June), Project Based Learning For A Digital Circuits Design Sequence At Hbcus Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2610

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