Innovations in Engineering Education is exemplified by publications that pursue several themes. These themes were presented at a sequence of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Mid-Atlantic Section and National Conferences.
Augmenting Hardware Experiments with Simulation in Digital Communications
An undergraduate course in digital communications is usually offered with a supplemental hardware laboratory to illuminate the concepts presented in the course text. The traditional undergraduate laboratory presents communication circuit hardware (phase-locked loops, voltage-controlled oscillators) and systems (modulators, demodulators, filters) in the context of the measurements provided by complex instruments (modulation and spectrum analyzers, sweep frequency generators) and techniques (bandwidth, distortion and bit error). The operation of these instruments is often daunting to the undergraduate and somewhat out-of-context with the course text and with the computer-aided techniques employed in undergraduate laboratories offered in other course sequences, such as electronics, control systems, and digital logic.
Reintroducing Amateur Radio Into ECE Capstone Design
Capstone design projects are an important component of the undergraduate educational process that synthesizes requisite course material into a relevant experience. Many such contemporary projects utilize embedded software and hardware and wired, and now wireless, data communication. What is not used routinely, though, is a concentration that, at one time, was quite significant in the technical development of undergraduate electrical and now computer engineers in wireless data communication: Amateur Radio.
The Marconi Challenge – Who Needs the IEEE Micromouse?
The Marconi Challenge is a new contest that addresses the design objectives of wireless data communication and is suitable for students from junior high school to college. The Marconi Challenge was originally conceived to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Guglielmo Marconi’s transatlantic wireless transmission in 2001. For high school students, the Marconi Challenge provides an opportunity to demonstrate the principles of lens and mirrors in optics and basic electronics in a stimulating environment. Undergraduate ECE students can utilize more complex electronics, error correcting codes and RF modulation methods with an Amateur Radio license to explore applications of wireless communication based on their curriculum.
Teaching Digital Communications in a Wireless World: Who Needs Equations?
Digital communication is traditionally taught by examining the temporal and spectral response and the bit error rate performance of a system in the presence of additive noise as only a set of analytical equations. This approach seems to provide little insight or motivation for the undergraduate student. Undergraduate courses in digital signal and image processing extensively utilize simulation as an adjunct to understanding, but digital communications seems to be a laggard. An undergraduate curriculum in digital communications has been developed that couples the traditional analytical approach with the simulation of the system for further design, analysis, insight and motivation.
What’s All This Interdisciplinary Engineering Stuff Anyway?
The undergraduate Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering discipline degree programs have unfortunately become rigid in their requisite and elective courses. For the Engineer of 2030 interdisciplinary engineering programs are more reasonable for the employment opportunities now being proffered by industry.
It’s a SNAP: Student Note-Taking Achieves Performance
The Student Note-Taking Achieves Performance (SNAP) concept is presented here with its utilization, observations and analysis as an alternative to other methods, such as homework problems, proffered to enhance learning. This educational initiative attempts to address the question of the formative skill for the reading of text and lecture material by a student and the immediate translation then to problem solving. SNAP is a short (15 minute) quiz using only the student’s handwritten notes but no text or references.
ME for EEs – Where Are All the ME Courses in the EE Curriculum?
Undergraduate EE programs seem to be unable to accommodate within their curricula substantive ME courses. Alternatively, a single course obliquely called ME for EEs, a counter to the EE for MEs course usually required in the ME program, may be necessary. This requisite course has been vetted over three semesters, directly assessed by CLOs mapped to SOs and indirectly assessed by a course survey. The impact of the course on the interdisciplinary capstone design was notable and indirectly assessed by surveys and interviews. The implementation of such a requisite ME for EEs course in the typical EE program is not as endemic as may be perceived but is indispensable to the profession.
EE and ME Together Again: Forging a BSE from BSEE and BSME Programs
An unfortunate premise is that neither the undergraduate Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) or Mechanical Engineering (ME) degree programs can accommodate within their curriculum substantive ECE or ME courses. Yet there is a natural intersection between ECE and ME for professional opportunities in the 21st century. To break this seeming impasse an interdisciplinary program of study between ECE and ME has been initiated as one aspect of an Engineering (BSE) degree with plans of study for Electromechanical Engineering and Energy and Power Engineering.
Incorporating PlutoSDR in the Communication Laboratory and Classroom
An exploration of the potential opportunities, benefits and pitfalls to be avoided in incorporating the PlutoSDR (software defined radio) in the classroom and open laboratory environment is presented. The hardware capabilities, limitations and applications of the inexpensive PlutoSDR as an alternative to the more expensive or the less capable SDRs is reviewed. The PlutoSDR is an example of the trend for undergraduate students to acquire and use their own equipment in an open laboratory as an aid to pedagogy.