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Transforming a Freshman Electrical Engineering Lab Course to Improve Access to Place-Bound Students

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1278.1 - 24.1278.8



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Paper Authors


Denise Thorsen University of Alaska, Fairbanks

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Denise Thorsen received her B.S. (1985), M.S. (1991) and Ph.D. (1996) degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently an Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Lori Sowa P.E. University of Alaska, Southeast

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Transforming a Freshman Electrical Engineering Lab Course to Improve Access to Place Bound StudentsThis project seeks to expand access to Electrical and Computer Engineering by transforming anintroductory electrical engineering lab course into an interactive hybrid teaching model, acombination of face-to-face and online peer/teacher instruction. This course will include inter-campus collaborative hands-on laboratory and team project experiences. The project addressesthe needs of three very different populations of students: (i) traditional engineering studentsenrolled at the main engineering campus; (ii) students enrolled in a pre-engineering program at aseparate campus; and (iii) place-bound students attending a minority serving community campuswith no engineering curriculum. Delivery of an exemplary, financially responsible, engineeringeducation in each of these communities has unique challenges, including cost and availability ofan instructor, cost and availability of laboratory facilities, diversity of students’ prior knowledgeand cultural experiences, and variety of students’ learning styles.Goal 1: Deliver a hands-on electrical engineering lab course to place-bound pre-engineering andminority serving community campuses synchronously with the identical course delivered face-to-face on the main engineering campus. This is the first truly hands-on engineering lab coursedelivered by distance in the state and has the potential to transform the way engineeringeducation is delivered.Goal 2: Restructure the lab component of the class to require inter-campus collaborationbetween the students through data sharing and discussions in the hands-on laboratories and teamprojects. This has the potential to transform the educational experience of the often isolatedplace-bound students in rural communities, building their social capital and connecting them to alarger learning community. This inter-campus collaboration also allows a deeper discussion ofvariations and outliers in measurements and is more reflective of our global work environment.Planning and implementation of this transformation has occurred on several levels (i) obtainingbuy-in of administration at the main engineering campus; (ii) collaboration with the pre-engineering faculty at the separate campus; (iii) restructuring the existing course to facilitate thediverse student population; and (iv) obtaining buy-in from place-bound students at the minorityserving campus’s. We are currently in the preliminary stages of this process havingaccomplished (i)-(ii). We are working on (iii) for delivery in spring 2014, and are preparing toaccomplish (iv) in 2015. This poster will describe our process of transformation and will presentour formative assessment of the restructured course to be delivered in spring 2014.

Thorsen, D., & Sowa, L. (2014, June), Transforming a Freshman Electrical Engineering Lab Course to Improve Access to Place-Bound Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23211

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