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Role Playing In Engineering Education

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.380.1 - 1.380.5

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Paper Authors

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Russell J. Deaton

author page

Michael J. Bartz

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

I .— -- . . . Session 1532 -

—. ...’ Role Playing in Engineering Education

Michael Bartz and Russell J. Deaton The University of Memphis

Abstract Role playing allows engineering students to participate in many activities in which professional engineers engage. Examples include product research and development, job hunting, identification and evaluation of vendors, business present at ions and meetings, team projects, reports, and manage- ment. At The University of Memphis, an inter-course project used role playing to introduce students to these “soft” enginwring skills. The inter-course project involved a senior elective in Discrete-Time Signal Processing (DSP), and a junior electronics course. Students within the courses were broken into teams or “companies” with the engineering goal of developing a signal processing system. Stu- dents prepared resumes and interviewed for positions with each “company.” DSP teams developed system-level specifications, and the electronics teams developed digital-t~analog converters to meet the specifications. The DSP teams had to evaluate the electronic teams’ products, as well as real vendors’, on price and performance for incorporation in their systems. Different DSP teams had to design their systems to meet specific performance and price criteria for different applications. The electronics teams did sales presentations to the DSP teams, and designed their products to meet the DSP team specifications. The student teams were rated competitively based upon the demonstration of professional skills, such as oral presentation and written specifications, and product performance and price.

Introduction While recognizing the need for instruction and practice in the formal techniques of electrical engineering, students often express a need for skills and experiences that are closer to what they will experience as practicing, professional engineers. Some of the skills are written and oral report preparation, working in groups, managing other workers, realistic cost estimates and budget preparation, interfacing with other engineers and vendors, and resume and interviewing skills. An example of a real-world engineering situation is a problem or design task that is incompletely specified, and situations in which unforeseen difficulties and problems arise. Therefore, to address this type of engineering knowledge, an inter-course project between two junior and senior electrical engineering courses combines the traditional lecture and practice on “hard” techniques, and practice on “soft” sk~lls, such as those mentioned above. Inter-course and Intra-course Project Descriptions In a junior electronics class and senior discrete-time signal processing (DSP) class, a inter-course project was designed and implemented to give the students a realistic engineering experience and practice with professional skills. The students in each course were divided into teams that simulated engineering units of a larger company. The DSP “companies” designed a recording and playback system for either ‘

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Deaton, R. J., & Bartz, M. J. (1996, June), Role Playing In Engineering Education Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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