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Teaching Telecommunications Fundamentals A Networking Approach

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1233.1 - 10.1233.7



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Paper Authors

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John Fike

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

Teaching Telecommunications Fundamentals – A Networking Approach

John L. Fike, P.E. Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution Texas A&M University

Introduction As with many topics in a rapidly changing technical world, an introductory course in telecommunications and networking presents a challenge to curriculum developers. How does one teach fundamentals, such as frequency, bandwidth, and multiplexing, which change slowly and do not always appear important to the students? How does one teach contemporary networking topics in a way that is interesting to the “techies” while not losing the less knowledgeable? In addition, how does one bring all of the details of networking together as parts of a central theme so students come away with an overall sense of the field, rather than a collection of disconnected facts? This paper addresses one such attempt, that of transforming a “traditional” course, Introduction to Telecommunications, into a new course which is, in effect, an Introduction to Networking.

Background The Engineering Technology Program at Texas A&M University traces its roots to a program in Industrial Technology, which was organizationally part of the College of Education. Many years ago, the program was transferred to the College of Engineering, becoming the Department of Engineering Technology, with the original program becoming Mechanical Engineering Technology. Subsequently, the Electronics Engineering Technology (EET) program was added to the curriculum.

Telecommunications Engineering Technology (TET) at Texas A&M was an outgrowth of the EET program, beginning in 1975. This was urged and partially funded by several industry groups: the International Communications Association, representing large corporate users; the Texas Telephone Association, representing independent telephone companies; the General Telephone Company of the Southwest (GTE), who was Texas A&M’s telephone service provider and became part of Verizon; and large user corporations, particularly Exxon and Texaco from the petroleum industry. These groups wanted a source for new graduates with specialized training in telecommunications topics, both technical (with focus on testing and maintaining transmission and switching systems) and managerial (designing and managing private corporate networks). The TET curriculum expanded in the 1980s from one course to six, remaining a closely affiliated program to EET for accreditation purposes. In 1994 the TET program became separately accredited by ABET.

Industry Changes While initially the graduates of the program were hired primarily by independent telephone companies and large user firms, this changed during the 1990s. Mergers and outsourcing, particularly in the oil and gas industry, reduced the number of firms with in-house

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Fike, J. (2005, June), Teaching Telecommunications Fundamentals A Networking Approach Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15097

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