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Using Internet of Things (IoT) as a Platform to Enhance Interest in Electrical and Computer Engineering

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Software & Web-based Education

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Shiny Abraham Seattle University

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Shiny Abraham is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Seattle University. She received the B.E. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from Visveswaraiah Technological University (VTU), India in 2007 and Ph.D. from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA in 2012. Her research interests span the areas of wireless communication, cyber security, Internet of Things (IoT), optimization using Game Theory, and engineering education research. She is a member of the IEEE and ASEE, a technical program committee member for IEEE Globecom, ICC, ICCCN and VTC conferences, and a reviewer for several international journals and conferences.

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Traditional pre-engineering programs train freshman students in math and sciences, with the hope of preparing them for a successful transition to an engineering program. It is at this juncture that Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) programs should focus their recruitment efforts in order to influence students’ choice of engineering disciplines. Various factors impact this choice; Students’ career interests at the time of application, their perception of the discipline and resulting career opportunities, analytical complexity of the required core courses, and the impact of their contributions on society, among many others [1]. ECE programs lose a good number of students to other programs due to its supposed ‘highly theoretical’ nature, and a common misconception that ECE is all about electricity and electric circuits. Many undecided students are torn between their love for building gadgets, and their need to acquire real-world skills such as programming and creating applications.

This paper proposes the use of Internet of Things (IoT) as a platform to expose freshman students to the confluence of ‘Electrical’ and ‘Computer’ Engineering. Students will be introduced to different facets of IoT technology, which includes configuration of the hardware platforms (microcontrollers, data acquisition devices etc.), building applications for the IoT device, observing its real-world deployment, and recognizing implementation challenges such as data access, control and security. These tasks will be executed keeping in mind the fact that freshman students may have limited knowledge and experience with the concepts involved. An overview of IoT technology and its applications would in itself introduce students to the sub-disciplines of ECE such as Communications, Semiconductors, Power, Controls, Embedded Systems and Computing, among many others. The underlying goals of this work are to educate freshmen about the myriad opportunities they could have as ECE graduates, to help them understand the relevance of core math, science and ECE courses in the context of a bigger picture, and to better prepare them for careers in a world that is more ‘connected’ now than ever before.

The efficacy of this approach will be gauged using pre-and post surveys that indicate enhanced student interest in Electrical and Computer Engineering as a major, after having gone through the IoT experience. Future work would include validation of these observations based on the percentage of students in this cohort who declare ECE as their major.

References: 1) Carnasciali, M., & Thompson, A. E., & Thomas, T. J. (2013, June), Factors influencing students' choice of engineering major Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference, Atlanta, Georgia. Preference: This work could be better represented through a poster presentation.

Abraham, S. (2016, June), Using Internet of Things (IoT) as a Platform to Enhance Interest in Electrical and Computer Engineering Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27149

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