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Unleashing Student Creativity with Digital Design Patterns

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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

Curriculum & Student Enrollment II

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1299.1 - 24.1299.6



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Paper Authors


Miguel Bazdresch Rochester Institute of Technology

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Miguel Bazdresch ( obtained his PhD in Electronic Communications from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications, in France, in 2004. He worked for several years designing digital integrated circuits for the telecommunications industry. After teaching at ITESO University, in Mexico, from 2005 to 2012, he came to the Electronics, Computers and Telecommunications Engineering Technology Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he is an Assistant Professor.

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Unleashing Student Creativity with Digital Design PatternsAbstract: Digital design is, in part, a creative process. A solution to a design problem must beimagined before it can be implemented. Creativity takes time and effort to develop. Withsufficient experience, students who practice digital design (often after graduation) can becomequite proficient in it. In a classroom environment, however, teaching creativity is challenging.We believe that, with specific techniques, it is possible to encourage its development in such away that students are able to design, implement and test solutions to more complex problemsthan before.Our approach is as follows. The most general design technique is arguably top-down design,using the divide-and-conquer strategy. When faced with a complex problem, however, studentsoften have difficulty in determining how a design should be partitioned. This process is madeeasier if students formulate the end result, that is, the large set of simple problems that theoriginal problem will be broken into. We mix top-down and bottom-up strategies so that thecreative process has definite end-points, with the complex problem at one end and simpleproblems at the other end. Then, creativity is required only in the intermediate steps.What should the simple problems at the bottom look like? We posit that they are not thetraditional textbook building blocks, such as decoders, encoders, and multiplexers. We takeinspiration from software design patterns. A software pattern is a code template for a solution toa commonly found problem in programming and computer science. Moreover, software patternsdescribe accepted best practices that have been proven correct over many years. We have starteddevelopment of a library of digital design patterns, which mirror their software counterparts.These patterns help guide students during the top-down design process, since they suggest aspecific strategy: decompose the large problem in such a way that the end result is a set ofpatterns.In this paper, we present incipient results and assessment on the benefits of using design patternsas a learning aid in advanced digital design courses. We propose several instances of designpatterns and one example of their use in a laboratory assignment. We also present ourperspective on future development of this idea, including a library of anti-patterns andarchitectural patterns.

Bazdresch, M. (2014, June), Unleashing Student Creativity with Digital Design Patterns Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23232

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