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Student and Professor Collaboration to Develop a First Year Electrical Engineering Capacitance Laboratory with Common Materials

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2021 First-Year Engineering Experience



Publication Date

August 9, 2021

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August 9, 2021

End Date

August 21, 2021

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Kayla Thompson


Matthew Garett Young Arkansas Tech University

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Matthew G. Young received his B. Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Arkansas Tech University in 2009. He obtained his M. Sc. in Microelectronics-Photonics at the University of Arkansas in 2012. For his M. Sc. studies, he focused on the growth of silicon nanowires via plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition. In August of 2016, he joined the faculty at Arkansas Tech University as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering. His Ph.D. was completed at the University of Arkansas in May 2017. At Arkansas Tech University, Matthew is focused on establishing research experiences for undergraduate and graduate students and investigating new methods to enhance engineering education in the classroom.

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Using common household materials can potentially create more intriguing laboratory experiences for undergraduate STEM students. Laboratories using commonly available materials may also lower intimidation when students learn new material and provide a tangible experience that is more memorable than text in a book. Another beneficial aspect of such laboratories is that they can be more budget-friendly and do not necessarily require sophisticated equipment. Laboratories should cultivate student creativity using ordinary items for students to test different measures of electricity. For example, conductive dough is known to have properties of electrical resistance and has the potential for additional electrical testing. Expanding on already published current experiments with conducting dough, this paper aims to include information on being able to design, plan, and conduct experiments to measure conductive dough's capacitive properties. In addition, other common materials such as aluminum foil, wax paper, parchment paper, tapes, and other “household” items can all be combined to form capacitors in a classroom space. The paper will detail the development of a first-year laboratory experience for undergraduate STEM students. The development of this laboratory experience is a collaboration between a senior undergraduate student and a professor. The paper will provide details on how the laboratory practice was implemented in a single class session but provide alternative suggestions for how it could be deployed in other ways. Indirect assessment data will be presented on the implementation of the educational laboratory. If possible, direct assessment data will also be collected and used to discuss how this laboratory activity impacted student learning.

Thompson, K., & Young, M. G. (2021, August), Student and Professor Collaboration to Develop a First Year Electrical Engineering Capacitance Laboratory with Common Materials Paper presented at 2021 First-Year Engineering Experience, Virtual .

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