June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
26.1591.1 - 26.1591.13
Towards a T Shaped Electrical and Computer Engineering Curriculum: a Vertical and Horizontally Integrated Laboratory/Lecture ApproachWe believe that in order to educate “T-Shaped” engineers, a “T-Shaped” curriculum is required.A typical Electrical and Computer Engineering curriculum, presents the introductory material ina sequence of courses. In many cases these are sequenced as Circuits, Electronics, and Signalsand Systems. While a curriculum structured in this fashion covers the basic material, studentretention of key concepts may not be optimal. Signals and Systems courses frequently do nothave a laboratory component, leading students to think of them as simply a mathematics coursewith little practical use. Also, students tend to see Electronics with its associated non-linearcomponents and heavy use of models as a big hurdle when presented as a follow-on to the linearcircuit concepts normally presented in the first course of the sequence. This perceiveddisassociation between courses does not promote a breadth of understanding of the material.Furthermore, although the first two courses in a typical sequence have an associated laboratorycomponent, the material in the laboratory may not correspond directly to the concepts presentedin lectures; lecture material is likely to be “stale” in the student’s mind by the time theirparticular laboratory session actually meets.To address these limitations, inherent in a conventional curriculum, we are implementing a majorpedagogical restructuring of our core coursework. We have introduced a 3 course sequence thatreplaces the conventional one. This sequence eliminates compartmentalization of material, andindeed is simply referred to as Fundamentals, 1 through 3. We achieve horizontal integration byhaving each course include material from all 3 of our earlier conventional courses, with eachcourse in the new sequence reiterating some material from the previous one. For example, ourFundamentals 1 course includes some basic circuit analysis techniques, but doing so within thecontext of how these techniques are extended to encompass analysis of electronic componentssuch as MOSFETs and diodes. We also explore how to use frequency domain concepts todescribe the signals that students are working with. We achieve vertical integration byprogressively deepening the level of understanding at which the material is presented;Fundamentals 2 and 3 still contains circuit and electronic materials as well as the varioustransforms associated with signals and systems, but at a far deeper level of detail than inFundamentals 1.Laboratory experiments are an integral part of our curricula, and each course meeting consists ofboth lecture and laboratory, interleaved with each other and in the same classroom. The lecturesare presented in compact segments that encompass a single concept. Students then perform ashort experiment that illustrates that concept before moving to the next section of the lecture; allmaterial is thus presented both as a theoretical concept and simultaneously as a laboratoryexperiment. In addition each course includes a project in which the students design and assemblea printed circuit board, further cementing the relation between analysis, synthesis, and practice..
Powell, H. C., & Williams, R. D., & Weikle, R. M., & Brandt-Pearce, M. (2015, June), Towards a T Shaped Electrical and Computer Engineering Curriculum: a Vertical and Horizontally Integrated Laboratory/Lecture Approach Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24927
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