July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Electrical and Computer
Although electrical engineers serve a vital function in our modern world and the demands for companies to hire undergraduate electrical engineering students with highest median annual earnings have significantly increased due to our insatiable desires for more electronics functionalities and higher performance communications, computing, and automation, the electrical engineering (EE) programs have lost a good number of students to other disciplines and programs in recent years. This trend is even more obvious in historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and minority serving institutes. Hence, it is essential to enhance undergraduate EE education to achieve the goal of diversifying and improving students’ interests and academic achievements.
The next generation electrical engineers should have significant technical and scientific capabilities, deep interdisciplinary understandings, and soft skills such as self-learning abilities and communication competence. To satisfy these requirements, the successful EE education needs to continuously expose students to the latest technology, provide them opportunities to practice, and involve them in innovative projects. Cyber-physical systems (CPS), an integration of computation, networking, and physical processes, and its instance, Internet of Things (IoT), a network of uniquely identifiable physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity, emerge as feasible and effective platforms to present the undergraduate EE students with various sub-disciplines of EE such as engineering graphics and programming, data and signal processing, communications and computing, semiconductors, power, controls, embedded systems and many others. However, most current EE programs only introduce CPS/IoT in unconnected pieces with separate courses whose relationship to each other and to the engineering process are not explained.
This paper presents our attempts to tackle the challenges of enrollment and retention and improve undergraduate training in EE program to meet the demands and needs of the industry and the R&D community. The fundamental, contemporary and multidisciplinary CPS/IoT concepts with a series of project-based and problem-oriented learning modules are infused throughout the four-year curriculum. The pedagogy of horizontal and vertical integration is implemented to cut across artificial course boundaries. The learning modules are designed to let students realize that the courses are part of a flow that contributes to a unified knowledge base, draw out their understanding of engineering and mathematics fundamentals, transform factual information into usable knowledge, and consolidate their perceptions of new information through integrated real-world applications. Moreover, cyber-learning that advances learning of important content by applying scientific insights about how people learn, leveraging emerging technologies, and designing transformative learning activities is engaged into instructions to supplement and facilitate learning experiences with more dynamic, compelling, and interactive ways.
The success and advantages of our approach are assessed through monitoring and documenting the instructional activities, identifying implementation difficulties, and assessing the outcomes. Feedbacks from preliminary evaluations were positive and encouraging. Students were highly interested and excited in the CPS/IoT topics and the cyber learning experience.
Hong, L., & Keel, L., & McCurry, C. D. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Enhance Undergraduate Electrical Engineering Education with CPS/IoT Infusion Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38150
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