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What Does My Car Am Radio Have To Do With Learning Electronics?

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Instrumentation and Controls Laboratories

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1364.1 - 14.1364.15



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Paper Authors

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Oscar Ortiz LeTourneau University


Paul Leiffer LeTouneau University

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Paul R. Leiffer is a professor in the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology at LeTourneau University, where he has taught since 1979. He received his B.S.E.E. from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Drexel University. Prior to joining the faculty at LeTourneau, he was involved in cardiac cell research at the University of Kansas Medical Center. His professional interests include bioinstrumentation, digital signal processing, and engineering ethics. Email:

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

What does my car AM radio have to do with learning Electronics? Introduction

During the past two years a one semester long electronics project have been added to the Electronics’ Lab curriculum to enhance students learning of basic electronic components. Students who enroll in the electronics’ lab, simultaneously enroll into the analog electronics lecture which is a three credit hour course combined with the two-credit-hour lab. Both courses are required for students majoring in the electrical and computer engineering concentrations. Our expectation is that after taking both courses students had learned the theory and application of such components as diodes, Zener diodes, NPN and PNP transistors, MOSFETs, SCR’s Diacs, Triacs, and optoelectronic devices.

Project-based learning develops the ability of the students to work in interdisciplinary teams. Projects carried out by interdisciplinary teams are not only an expectation of industry but also have become a required outcome of the ABET engineering criteria. A series of curriculum tools have been developed at our school to ensure that students will have a measure of success in project team work [1] Project-based learning is an instructional method that demands from the student acquisition of critical knowledge, problem solving proficiency, self-directed learning strategies, and team participation skills [2]

During the 2007 fall semester the students studied and implemented FM transmitters and FM receivers as part of their project-based learning experience. For the 2008 fall semester project students studied, designed and implemented AM transmitters and AM receivers. The main challenges that the students faced in the 2008 Project-based learning project were: a) an AM transmitter or receiver design of their own, b) intensive study and research of AM modulators, oscillators, mixers, frequency multipliers and other RF circuits, since electronic communication circuits are studied in detail a semester later in a second electronic course and RF theory is introduced a year later in the Communication course.

Effects on student learning concerning the concepts and applications of the studied electronics components were measured during the semester using quizzes and tests and at the end of the semester students completed a survey. The conclusions of this project and an evaluation between this year results and the previous years are presented in this paper. Improvement of the student learning through hands on projects may prompt the implementation of other projects that may include multidisciplinary collaboration, integration of projects between classes, projects across concentrations, and integration of semester projects into a larger unifying project that may assemble student’s learning from the freshman to the senior year.


To provide a hands-on experience to the electronic lectures a set of learning oriented, pre- defined labs are incorporated in a two-hour lab course: EEGR 3112 Electronic Lab.

Ortiz, O., & Leiffer, P. (2009, June), What Does My Car Am Radio Have To Do With Learning Electronics? Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5121

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