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Using Computers, Simulators And Sound To Give Hands On Experience

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.506.1 - 1.506.7

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N. A. Pendergrass

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3532

Using Computers, Simulators and Sound To Give Hands-On Experience

N. A. Pendergrass University of Massachusetts Dartmouth


This paper describes hands-on, computer assisted classroom activities and projects which have been fully integrated into an introductory signals and systems course. They combine a system simulator with audio input and output to produce an effective and interesting educational experience. Audio input and output is very useful in making a result relevant to a generation of students who were raised on rock music. The block diagram oriented simulator allows students to work quickly and independently. This reduces the need for faculty and TA support so that activities can be done in the usual class periods or as projects assigned as part of homework. For this reason the approach described in this paper could be used in other classes without significantly affecting the present syllabus. In addition, many of the described activities and projects could be easily extended to courses in communication, control, digital signal processing and speech processing.


At least one signals and systems course is required for electrical and computer engineering majors in nearly all programs. It usually introduces students to important continuous and discrete time system concepts and develops and applies Laplace, Fourier and z-transforms. These courses usually do not have laboratories or hands-on activity associated with them. However, these courses are very important because they provide the foundation for important areas of electrical engineering including circuits, systems, communications, control and signal processing.

Unfortunately, many students do not recognize the relevance of the material at this point in their careers and have difficulty because it appears to be "only math and theory.” The resulting low motivation often results in insufficient effort on course assignments. Students today face an incredible range of activities and entertainment options competing for their time. It should be no surprise that this generation of students cannot be counted on to take full advantage of the educational opportunities presented to them in a traditional engineering course.

Many authors have published papers arguing that today's students are much more strongly motivated and successful with problems that allow them to actually "do" things (See for example, [1-10]). In addition, students are motivated best by problems they readily appreciate as relevant and some authors have reported excellent success using audio signals to increase student interest and performance in laboratories [4, 8].

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Pendergrass, N. A. (1996, June), Using Computers, Simulators And Sound To Give Hands On Experience Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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