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Using contests to teach design to EE juniors

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2 Author(s)
P. H. Gregson ; Dept. of Electr. Eng., Dalhousie Univ., Halifax, NS, Canada ; T. A. Little

Most electrical engineering programs have a capstone design course, but lack a suitable design experience in the junior year. This makes the capstone course very difficult for students and compromises its pedagogical aims. A good design experience offers opportunities for learning to identify key operational concepts, to identify and remedy procedural and factual knowledge deficits, and to exercise judgment. The design problem should be open-ended, moderately difficult, and common to all groups. We use a design contest as a vehicle for teaching design in the junior-year analog electronics course, in lieu of conventional laboratories. Students design and build analog circuitry to autonomously control a small robotic vehicle. The contest culminates in a competitive tournament. Students' questionnaire responses indicate that the contest is a useful learning tool, increasing interest in electrical engineering and well worth the time spent. They indicate that contests are preferable to conventional labs for learning and understanding course material, for motivating them, and for providing an engineering experience

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Education  (Volume:42 ,  Issue: 3 )