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Work in Progress: Exploring Pedagogical Alternatives for Incorporating Simulations in an Introductory Power Electronics Course

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Course Transformation in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Mohamed Khaled Elshazly University of Toronto Orcid 16x16

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Mohamed Elshazly is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). He is currently engaged in developing support simulations for teaching introductory power electronics to undergraduate ECE students, as well as providing technical support. Mohamed's main research interests are numerical simulations and computational materials science, focusing on quantum mechanical modelling of electrochemical energy storage devices.

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Hamid S. Timorabadi University of Toronto

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Hamid Timorabadi received his B.Sc, M.A.Sc, and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto. He has worked as a project, design, and test engineer as well as a consultant to industry. His research interests include the application of digital signal processing in power systems.

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In Fall 2018, we developed LabSim, a set of circuit simulators for a power electronics fundamentals course based on a combination of Simulink and PLECS visual blocks. LabSim was developed to provide third-year electrical engineering students with an avenue for independent exploration beyond theory-heavy lectures and strictly controlled labs. The pedagogical approach then was to offer LabSim as a completely voluntary ancillary tool, with no involvement in lab or tutorial assignments, in order to minimize additional workload. While a student survey showed that LabSim accomplished its main goal of bridging the gap between lectures and labs, a common theme in the provided feedback was that students would benefit more from LabSim if it were incorporated more directly into their assignments. In response, we have updated the pedagogical approach in the Fall 2019 offering of the course to involve developing simulation- centred questions in pre-lab preparation assignments, dedicating office hours for simulation- related questions, developing additional simulators for crucial converter circuits, and providing dedicated simulation workstations on campus. We present this updated pedagogical approach in detail along with an overview of technical updates and examples from the aforementioned assignments. We also present an evaluation of this new approach through an end-of-semester student survey coupled with LabSim usage data collection in assignments where it is optional.

Elshazly, M. K., & Timorabadi, H. S. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Exploring Pedagogical Alternatives for Incorporating Simulations in an Introductory Power Electronics Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35635

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