June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Electrical and Computer
22.1224.1 - 22.1224.13
Redesign of Freshman Electrical Engineering Courses for Improved Motivation and Early Introduction of DesignWe changed the freshman curriculum in our Electrical Engineering program to: a) provide acoherent and engaging freshman experience, b) make the very first course more appealing toundecided students, c) introduce and emphasize design, teamwork, and soft-skills developmentearly on, d) strengthen the programming components through MATLAB and C, e) providechallenging, hands-on labs and projects to increase student motivation and learning. Hence, wereplaced the traditional “Introduction to Engineering” class with the following sequence: ECE 101 Exploring Electrical Engineering is the introductory class for students interested inelectrical or computer engineering. It is a hands-on, project-based class that introduces studentsto the practice of electrical engineering in a fun, non-lecture format. The main component of theclass is a quarter-long project. Students work in teams; a written report as well as an oralpresentation and demonstration are required, and there is a competition for the best project.Students gain experience of the engineering design process and develop critical thinking,problem-solving, teamwork and communications skills. Lab activities introduce students to labequipment, techniques and software. Guest speakers discuss different fields of electricalengineering and job opportunities. Finally, there are classroom exercises on team-building,problem-solving, ethics and communication. ECE 102 Engineering Computation is the follow-on course, which explores engineeringproblem solving with a focus on circuit analysis and computation software such as MATLAB.To reinforce essential MATLAB concepts, students are required to design, code, and document aprogram for controlling a LabJack, which is an analog and digital I/O adapter. ECE 103 Engineering Programming completes the sequence by providing a formalintroduction to computer programming. To support DSP and embedded systems classes, C is thechosen language. Building on earlier MATLAB experience, the course exposes students to thesoftware development process and to more complex LabJack projects, such as multiplexed LEDdisplays and infrared communication.Novel aspects of our curriculum include: a) spending the time and effort to ease the students intothe nitty-gritty of electrical engineering through fun and illustrative lab projects, b) usingMATLAB as an introduction to C programming, c) using both MATLAB and C to control acontrol/data acquisition unit, d) putting programming to more “real” uses through exercises andprojects dealing with sensor and actuator interfacing. Assessment was done through homework,lab reports, quizzes and projects which were mapped to course outcomes. We have collected datafor all three courses, which we are currently analyzing.Our objectives for the course sequence have been met: ECE 101 provides an engaging first-year experience while introducing design and team work through a fun lab project ECE 102 provides a solid foundation in problem solving, writing, and programming with emphasis on MATLAB and simple hardware interfacing ECE 103 expands the programming, design, and teamwork components by utilizing the C language in projects that re-utilize the LabJack adapter.Initial student responses are very positive. A more formal assessment is underway and will bepresented later.
Wong, P., & Holtzman, M., & Pejcinovic, B., & Chrzanowska-Jeske, M. (2011, June), Redesign of Freshman Electrical Engineering Courses for Improved Motivation and Early Introduction of Design Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18541
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