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Systems Design Using Real World Experiences With Industry

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Issues of Cooperative Education I

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1135.1 - 13.1135.8



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Paper Authors

author page

ROBERT GRAY Penn State Erie

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

Systems Design Using Real-World Experiences with Industry Abstract

The author has co-developed and taught the following courses related to systems design at the author's School of Engineering: Senior Design Project (3 semester hr) Manufacturing Related Topics in Probability, Statistics and Reliability (3 semester hr) Senior Design Seminar (1 semester hr)

These systems design courses taught in a traditional classroom setting meet ABET criteria. However, by adding the non-traditional elective Applied Systems Design with Industry (3 semester hr) to the systems design curriculum, students have been provided an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the need and benefit for systems design and systems engineering methodology.1

This paper describes: 1. the perceived shortcomings of a systems design course curriculum in a traditional classroom setting; 2. the development of a non-traditional systems design course with the cooperation of a local industry partner; 3. examples of off-campus field trips to the industry partner that support systems design learning experiences; 4. the outcomes, feedback, and experiences from partnering with a local industry;2 5. additional student opportunities resulting from developing a partnership with a local industry.

Perceived Shortcomings to Traditional Systems Design Curriculum

Before I began a career in academia as a professor of (electrical) engineering, I worked in industry for nearly 20 years. A major part of my career was in the military performing duties as an avionics maintenance technician, a flight crewmember in remote operations in Alaska, an avionics systems engineer for the F-16 aircraft, and researcher for guidance and controls systems in an avionics laboratory. Once in front of the classroom, it did not take long before I noticed that my senior students had a good grasp of the individual subjects (circuits, digital electronics, microprocessors, mathematics, physics, etc.), but they lacked a solid understanding of how the pieces integrated and functioned in a sophisticated system. For example, in a design class, students asked me how an electric motor actually worked. When I described the fundamentals of how a motor worked, I also found myself describing to them how a motor is built piece by piece. How I wished I could take my students back to my roots; to a place where raw materials such as copper and iron are fabricated into individual parts and manufactured and integrated together to make an electric motor. I wanted to take them back with me in the field where I worked and learned hands-on. In my mind, having this real-world knowledge seemed both fundamental and essential to better understand how a motor works. Along with finding a way to provide students with the opportunity to study and understand sophisticated systems, I wanted to involve students in systems design and multidisciplinary teamwork. Again, these are concepts that are best

GRAY, R. (2008, June), Systems Design Using Real World Experiences With Industry Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3980

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