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Student Engagement and Industry Readiness in a Systems Exploration, Engineering, and Design Laboratory (SEED Lab)

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Vibhuti Dave Colorado School of Mines

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Dr. Vibhuti Dave is a Teaching Professor in the department of Electrical Engineering at Colorado School of Mines since 2011. She also serves as the assistant department head. She is heavily involved with undergraduate curriculum updates, assessment of learning outcomes and teaching core EE classes.
Prior to Mines, she was at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College as an Assistant Professor in the Electrical, Computer, and Software Engineering program for 4 years. She received her undergraduate engineering degree in the field of Electronics and Communication from Nirma Institute of Technology, India in 2000. She received her M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Ph.D. (2007) in Computer Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL.
Dr. Dave’s research interests lie in the field of High Speed Computer Arithmetic and Computer Architecture. Her research has been focused on the design high-speed multi-operand adders. In addition, she is also interested in performing research in VLSI implementation of signal processing algorithms, and low power integrated circuit design.
Her teaching interests include Digital Logic Design, Computer Architecture, Computer Arithmetic, VLSI Design.

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Tyrone L. Vincent Colorado School of Mines Orcid 16x16

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Tyrone L. Vincent received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Arizona, Tucson, in 1992, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1994 and 1997, respectively.
He is currently a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, at the Colorado School of Mines, Golden. His research interests include system identification, estimation, and fault detection with applications in materials processing, and energy systems.

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Megan Sanders Colorado School of Mines Orcid 16x16

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Megan Sanders is the Senior Assessment Associate at the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center at the Colorado School of Mines. Before joining Mines, Megan worked at the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Instructional Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University, where her role focused on supporting instructors in conducting research about student outcomes in their courses. Megan’s disciplinary background is in educational psychology. She earned her PhD from the Ohio State University, and her research focused on the idea of relevance in higher education—how we define it, how students perceive it, and how to measure it—an interest that continues to inform her work.

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Stephanie Claussen Colorado School of Mines

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Stephanie Claussen’s experience spans both engineering and education research. She obtained her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005. Her Ph.D. work at Stanford University focused on optoelectronics, and she continues that work in her position at the Colorado School of Mines, primarily with the involvement of undergraduate researchers. In her role as an Associate Teaching Professor, she is primarily tasked with the education of undergraduate engineers. In her courses, she employs active learning techniques and project-based learning. Her previous education research, also at Stanford, focused on the role of cultural capital in science education. Her current interests include engineering students' development of social responsibility and the impact of students' backgrounds in their formation as engineers.

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Laboratory courses have been a key component of engineering education in the United States since the founding of the earliest American engineering schools (Feisel and Rosa, 2005). Today, well designed laboratories in the undergraduate curriculum play a critical role in the development of students' hands-on skills, problem-solving abilities, teamwork skills and analytical thinking while also deepening the content learned in lecture-based classes. The primary focus of this paper is the design, evaluation and improvement of a multi-faceted, intra-disciplinary laboratory called the Systems Exploration, Engineering, and Design Laboratory (SEED Lab). Created with the support and input of industry partners, the SEED Lab aims to emulate our students' likely future experiences in a professional environment. The course employs assessment techniques such as reflection logs, CATME evaluations, team presentations at regular intervals, and performance-based demonstrations.

One of the original aims in designing the SEED Lab was to explore how a novel undergraduate laboratory experience could rectify or address many of the issues that are common with laboratory courses, such as their cost, low student engagement, insufficient time for mastery of laboratory skills, and a focus on specific technical content at the expense of developing design skills and integrating knowledge from disparate courses. The SEED Lab is delivered as a project-based course, with little to no procedural instructions or lectures, while still providing an experience close to what students would go through in the industry when working on building a product.

The SEED Lab is designed to support multiple undergraduate courses across the electrical engineering curriculum. It has been fully developed and offered as a one credit hour project-based junior/senior level course since Fall of 2015. Students work in teams of three or four with each student bringing their own skillset to the table, and work together toward a fully functional system. The course is divided into multiple phases. The first phase provides some introductory training in the equipment being used. Limited guidance is provided in terms of handouts and reference materials, as students engage in the process of self-learning. The second phase is when students choose from a range of focus areas to develop their expertise in. In the final phase, students integrate their pieces of the project into a final design. There are three milestones that are demonstrated throughout the semester. Each provides the students the opportunity to evaluate and refine their designs. Scoring at each demonstration is performance-based where students are required to meet several different criteria. Their final score depends on how well they performed in a specific criteria compared to other teams, introducing an element of competition.

The paper will include a detailed discussion on how the course has been designed, the implementation and delivery mechanisms, and the resources required. In addition, an analysis of data collected from Spring 2017 and Fall 2017 will be presented. The data collected is meant to measure the impact of the course on students’ abilities to experiment and prototype, work as a team in the engineering design process, and students’ attitudes and abilities to learn from failure.

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Dave, V., & Vincent, T. L., & Sanders, M., & Claussen, S. (2018, June), Student Engagement and Industry Readiness in a Systems Exploration, Engineering, and Design Laboratory (SEED Lab) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31004

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