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Useful Strategies for Implementing an Online Undergraduate Electrical Engineering Program

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

New Trends in ECE Education II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1413.1 - 25.1413.13



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Paper Authors


Craig J. Scott Morgan State University

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Craig Scott is a professor and Chairperson for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Morgan State University, Baltimore, Md. He is currently directing research in developing tools for visual analytics, image/spatial data fusion, and aircraft synthetic vision systems. Additionally, he is conducting pedagogical studies on learning technologies and remedial math preparation for engineering students. He instructs courses in electromagnetics, solid state theory, characterization of semiconductor materials, computer vision, and computational electrical engineering.

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Petronella A. James Morgan State University


Yacob Astatke Morgan State University

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Yacob Astatke completed both his doctorate of engineering and B.S.E.E. degrees from Morgan State University (MSU) and his M.S.E.E. from Johns Hopkins University. He has been a full-time faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at MSU since Aug. 1994 and currently serves as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies. He teaches courses in both analog and digital electronic circuit design and instrumentation. Astatke has more than 10 years’ experience in the development and delivery of synchronous and asynchronous web-based ECE courses in the USA and abroad. He is the recipient of the 2012 ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

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Jumoke O. Ladeji-Osias Morgan State University Orcid 16x16

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Innovative Strategies for Implementing an Online Undergraduate Electrical Engineering ProgramOnline programs in Electrical Engineering disciplines have been mainly offered at the graduateschool level to avoid the complexities associated with conducting courses that require alaboratory component. To our knowledge there are only a handful of online Accreditation Boardfor Engineering and Technology (ABET) undergraduate programs offered nationwide thatrequire students to conduct laboratory components onsite. For some students this arrangementmay be inconvenient or in some cases impractical. Furthermore, there are many challengesassociated with teaching Electrical Engineering online courses because of the interposition ofheavy equation use and interactivity required.Over the past three years we have been investigating the use of inexpensive, highly portableinstrumentation to facilitate our lab requirements. As a result of this enabling technology, apartial online program targeted toward completing the second two years of an undergraduateelectrical engineering degree is being piloted at our institution. In this paper, we detail thecurriculum changes, how the formats of both laboratory and non-laboratory courses weremodified, the process of recruiting and certifying faculty to teach these courses, and evaluatingstudent perceptions while participating in these courses.A two plus two approach avoids the frustration associated with an institution wide conversion ofall required courses to fulfill graduation requirements. By adopting this approach, only a fewselect courses outside of the program inventory need to be addressed and the proper resourcescan be applied in a satisfactory manner. The current plus two program requires 65 credits ofcourses consisting of 18 credits of lab augmented core courses, 15 credits of non-lab based corecourses, 12 of 21 credits of elective courses, and 20 credits of non-electrical courses. Nearly 103students have participated in this study. Among other findings from a survey taken, the mostsalient issue facing faculty course builders was the extraordinary time commitment needed tocomplete a course certification. On the other hand, this teaching option has great appeal toworking professionals in that it affords a greater degree of flexibility by not having to meet andcommute at scheduled times during the course of a week.The impact on the rate at which students matriculated has been astounding. Students are able tocomplete more courses over the summer resulting in synchronizing larger cohorts of upper classstudents. Furthermore, the online option appears to be attracting more transfer students owing tothe flexibility offered to those who cannot assume a full time schedule or attend classes duringthe conventional primetime hours. Special care must be taken however, to assess a student’sability to work independently and whether or not they have reasonable expectations of the degreeof time management and persistence needed to satisfactorily complete their coursework online.Synchronous QA sessions with video/audio chat are preferred over the discussion boards. As aresult of this pilot study we can conclude that conducting a fully online undergraduate ElectricalEngineering program appears to be viable and that these efforts may help to lead the way inestablishing it as a competitive online undergraduate discipline.

Scott, C. J., & James, P. A., & Astatke, Y., & Ladeji-Osias, J. O. (2012, June), Useful Strategies for Implementing an Online Undergraduate Electrical Engineering Program Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22170

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