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The Art of Product Engineering: Integrating IoT Systems and Human-centered Design Principles for Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 9

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Ramsin Khoshabeh University of California, San Diego Orcid 16x16

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Ramsin Khoshabeh received his PhD from the ECE department at UC San Diego in 2012, specializing in computer vision and machine learning for medical applications. He currently serves as the Director of the ECE Makerspace at UC San Diego. In addition to overseeing the operations of the lab, Ramsin also teaches numerous experientially-focused courses covering topics such as basic electronics and prototyping, wearable sensors, Python programming, full-stack web development, real-time signal processing, machine learning and vision, human-centered product engineering, and even agile business planning. Prior to entering the workforce at UC San Diego, Ramsin is part of several startups and consults with a number of local companies on computer vision, machine learning, and blockchain technologies.

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Rick Gessner University of California, San Diego

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Rick is a serial entrepreneur (Pages, Firefox,...). Presently he is a lecturer and program coordinator at UCSD, where he teaches advanced software and the ECE capstone course called "The Art of Product Engineering". Rick is also involved in the development of the new Convergent Systems Engineering program at UCSD.

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In the ECE department at our university, we have been surveying and studying the needs of our stakeholders for many years: our students, managers from companies that hire our graduates, our faculty and staff. In the 2016-2017 academic year, we undertook an initiative to build a new type of capstone course to meet the needs of our stakeholders, and the result was ECE 140 A/B, which we dub "The Art of Product Engineering." ECE140 is an ambitious, two-quarter sequence that integrates full-stack software development on an IoT hardware platform, business basics, human-centric product design, entrepreneurship, leadership, and a rigorous hands-on lab component. It places customer needs at the heart of product design, allowing the students to get an authentic product development experience. Our aim through it all is to provide our students with practical, hands-on experience in building a novel IoT/software product for a new market of their own choosing, while working in the setting of a startup competition.

During the early planning stages for this course, it became clear that, while our students had excellent math and theory skills, they needed training in software development, systems thinking, and other hands-on skills. We wanted our ECE students to graduate with the ability to confidently walk into their future employers' office and know how to do the things they so passionately studied. Our experiment has proven to be a tremendous success as student after student has returned to us and declared that ECE 140 A/B were the very reason they received their internship or job.

In this paper, we will discuss the structure of the ECE 140 course sequence, highlighting how we combine the four pillars of software, hardware, product design (including user experience, information architecture, and human factors), and entrepreneurship into a seamless classroom experience. ECE 140 covers many topics at a rapid pace, preserving the value of theoretical knowledge while emphasizing experiential learning. We will highlight the lessons that we have learned along the way, what has worked out very well, what we are still trying to figure out, and what plans we have for the future offerings of this course.

Khoshabeh, R., & Gessner, R. (2021, July), The Art of Product Engineering: Integrating IoT Systems and Human-centered Design Principles for Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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