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To keep up with rapidly advancing technology, numerous innovations to the electrical and computer engineering (ECE) curriculum, learning methods and pedagogy have been envisioned, tested, and implemented. It is safe to say that no single approach will work for all of the diverse ECE technologies and every type of learner. However, a few key innovations appear useful in keeping undergraduate students motivated to learn, resilient to technology evolution, and oriented amid the overload of new information and ECE applications. Engineering clinics, similar to their medical clinic counterparts, provide project-based experiences within the core of an ECE education that enable transformation of the entire curriculum toward an outcomes-oriented, student-centered, total-quality environment. Clinics and project-based learning approaches build skills that give the students confidence and motivation to continuously self-learn and adapt as the technologies around them give way to new, more effective paradigms. Perhaps more importantly, engineering clinic experiences provide numerous opportunities for students to experience the holism of true engineering problem-solving approaches and the ranges of potential technology solutions. This paper reviews the clinic innovations that will enable ECE education to become more effective in the midst of the present plethora of information and technology. Assessment results are provided and are very encouraging. This paper concludes that agile learning environments, created to graduate engineers who can be rapidly productive in the professional and research worlds, are enhanced by clinic and/or project-based learning experiences in the ECE curriculum.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2010