June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.1486.1 - 22.1486.11
The Portability of Systems-Centric Content to Existing Sub- Discipline CoursesAbstractA multi-university, NSF-sponsored collaboration has developed a series of on-line learningmodules and experiential projects intended to elucidate complex, systems-oriented concepts inthe context of wireless sensor networks (WSN). Together these modules and projects comprisethe essential content of a complete undergraduate course on WSN. As it is often challenging toadd new courses to existing degree programs, ease of portability of the developed material hasbeen emphasized. The goal was to facilitate selective integration into existing curricula, therebyenhancing sub-discipline-specific courses with systems-centric learning. In this paper, theadoption of systems-oriented material from the WSN course into existing courses onRF/microwave theory and design at three institutions is described, as well as the portability ofexperiential projects to an existing embedded systems course at a fourth institution. Two of theadopters were involved in the original development of the material, and two additional adopterswere not.As an example implementation, one institution modified a course on introductory microwavecircuit design, which traditionally addressed topics such as transmission line theory, networktheory and design techniques for various passive components including filters, matchingnetworks and couplers. In the revised format, each topic is now covered in the context of satellitecommunications sub-system design and analysis. The on-line modules from the WSN course onsystem design concepts have been woven into the syllabus, and links between wireless sensornetworks and satellite communications networks are discussed. To accommodate the newmaterial, less emphasis is placed on certain specific microwave components, which are often thesubject of advanced courses. Early course assessment results indicate that the introductorysystems-oriented material increases student interest in RF/microwave circuit design andimproves understanding of how the performance of RF hardware impacts overall systemperformance. Instructor feedback indicates that the modules are effective in giving students adifferent and advanced perspective on course content and in enhancing the systems thinkingemphasis in their existing courses.In another implementation, the WSN course material was used to supplement an introductorycourse on RF systems for undergraduates. The material provided an alternative viewpoint on RFcomponents used in system design. It also provided exposure to advanced RF technologies, suchas RF MEMS used as switches and for re-configurability, not easily available in an introductorypublished text used for the undergraduates. Students viewed this additional content as very usefulto exposing them to advanced topics related to future RF systems.The four examples of porting the WSN course material into sub-discipline-specific courses willbe detailed in this paper, including a description of the supplementary material that wasdeveloped to effectively merge the new content. A common outcome was that these materialsprovided an expedient approach to develop concepts that enhance the students’ understanding ofmulti-layered systems. All hardware and software tools and extensive documentation, alongwith video-based course content, are available through the project website www.uvm.edu/~muse.
Weller, T., & Frolik, J., & Flikkema, P. G., & Shiroma, W. A., & Haden, C., & Franklin, R. R. (2011, June), The Portability of Systems-Centric Content to Existing Sub-Discipline Courses Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18970
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