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Education, IEEE Transactions on

Issue 2 • Date May 2010

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  • Table of contents

    Page(s): C1 - C4
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  • IEEE Transactions on Education publication information

    Page(s): C2
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  • A Project-Based Laboratory for Learning Embedded System Design With Industry Support

    Page(s): 173 - 181
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    A project-based laboratory for learning embedded system design with support from industry is presented in this paper. The aim of this laboratory is to motivate students to learn the building blocks of embedded systems and practical control algorithms by constructing a line-following robot using the quadratic interpolation technique to predict the line position. For those students who have acquired basic microcontroller hardware and software programming skills from previous courses, the hands-on exercises in the laboratory include several specific hardware circuits and software algorithms for the final project of constructing the line-following robot. The students are allowed to discuss the hardware and software problems with each other while solving each exercise, although they have to answer the teacher's questions individually to earn the score. To enhance the learning outcomes, a racing contest for the students' line-following robots is also organized to see how well the techniques learned in the laboratory are applied in the final project. The support from the local branch of Microchip Inc. allows students to obtain C-compilers and microcontrollers at no cost. The feedback from students shows that the final project of constructing line-following robots and the racing contest motivates the students to learn actively all the skills included in the laboratory for embedded system design. View full abstract»

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  • Applying Peer Reviews in Software Engineering Education: An Experiment and Lessons Learned

    Page(s): 182 - 193
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (939 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Based on the demonstrated value of peer reviews in the engineering industry, numerous industry experts have listed it at the top of the list of desirable development practices. Experience has shown that problems (defects) are eliminated earlier if a development process incorporates peer reviews and that these reviews are as effective as or even more effective than testing. It is therefore important for engineering students to peer review each other's work during design projects. However, surprisingly, few engineering courses in universities and colleges include peer-review activities in their design projects. The author thus decided to incorporate peer reviews in the design project of a senior software engineering course in two offerings of the course. The purpose of this article is to present the experimental findings, lessons learned, possible challenges, and recommendations that may be used to promote learning and also the use of peer-review activities in teaching other software, electrical, and computer engineering courses. The results of the experiment show promising signs of using peer review in the design project of the course. View full abstract»

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  • A 10-Year Mechatronics Curriculum Development Initiative: Relevance, Content, and Results—Part I

    Page(s): 194 - 201
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (355 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This paper describes the first phase of a Mechatronics Curriculum Development effort-the design of an ¿Introduction to Mechatronics¿ course, the infusion of mechatronics activities throughout the curriculum and in outreach activities, and assessment results. In addition, the relevance and impact of such a curriculum on the education of engineers in relation to the evolving global economy is discussed. The second and third phases of this effort included development of two advanced mechatronics courses and the formulation of a mechatronics curriculum, which will be addressed in a companion paper, ¿A 10-Year Mechatronics Curriculum Development Initiative: Relevance, Content, and Results-Part II¿ (IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 53, no. 2, May 2010). View full abstract»

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  • A 10-Year Mechatronics Curriculum Development Initiative: Relevance, Content, and Results—Part II

    Page(s): 202 - 208
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (422 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This paper describes the second and third phases of a comprehensive mechatronics curriculum development effort. They encompass the development of two advanced mechatronics courses (¿Simulation and Modeling of Mechatronic Systems¿ and ¿Sensors and Actuators for Mechatronic Systems¿), the formulation of a Mechatronics concentration, and offshoot research activities in the mechatronics area. The first phase involved the design of an ¿Introduction to Mechatronics¿ course and the infusion of mechatronic activities throughout the curriculum and in outreach activities and has been described in a companion paper ¿A 10-Year Mechatronics Curriculum Development Initiative: Relevance, Content, and Results-Part I¿ (IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 53, no. 2, May 2010). View full abstract»

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  • Using Antenna Arrays to Motivate the Study of Sinusoids

    Page(s): 209 - 215
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    Educational activities involving antenna arrays to motivate the study of sinusoids are described. Specifically, using fundamental concepts related to phase and simple geometric arguments, students are asked to predict the location of interference nulls in the radiation pattern of two-element phased array antennas. The location of the radiation nulls are then verified experimentally. The activities have been employed both in a freshman-level electrical engineering course and, in expanded form, a summer research experience for high school students. Details of the experiments are given, as are results of student assessment and suggestions for further development. View full abstract»

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  • Assessing Student Learning in a Virtual Laboratory Environment

    Page(s): 216 - 222
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    Laboratory experience is a key factor in technical and scientific education. Virtual laboratories have been proposed to reduce cost and simplify maintenance of lab facilities while still providing students with access to real systems. It is important to determine if such virtual labs are still effective for student learning. In the assessment of a graduate computer networks course, the author quantifies the amount of learning that is observed in lectures and labs. The results not only show that learning indeed occurs during lab sessions, but almost equally as much (45.9%) as in lectures (54.1%). Also, it is observed that even students who have prior experience in networking benefit from virtual labs. View full abstract»

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  • Ontology for E-Learning: A Bayesian Approach

    Page(s): 223 - 233
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (486 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    In the last decade, the evolution of educational technologies has forced an extraordinary interest in new methods for delivering learning content to learners. Today, distance education represents an effective way for supporting and sometimes substituting the traditional formative processes, thanks to the technological improvements achieved in the field in recent years. However, the role of technology has often been overestimated. The amount of information students can obtain from the Internet is huge, and as a result, they can easily be confused. Teachers can also be disconcerted by this vast quantity of content and are often unable to suggest the correct content to their students. In the open scientific literature, it is widely recognized that an important factor for success in delivering learning content is related to the capability for customizing the learning process for the specific needs of a given learner. This task is still far from having been fully accomplished, and there is a real interest in investigating new approaches and tools to adapt the formative process to specific individual needs. In this scenario, the introduction of ontology formalism can improve the quality of the formative process, allowing the introduction of new and effective services. Ontologies can lead to important improvements in the definition of a course's knowledge domain, in the generation of an adapted learning path, and in the assessment phase. This paper provides an initial discussion of the role of ontologies in the context of e-learning. The improvements related to the introduction of ontologies formalism in the e-learning field are discussed, and a novel algorithm for ontology building through the use of Bayesian networks is shown. Finally, the application of this algorithm in the assessment process and some experimental results are illustrated. View full abstract»

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  • Problem-Based Learning in Instrumentation: Synergism of Real and Virtual Modular Acquisition Chains

    Page(s): 234 - 242
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (855 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    As part of an instrumentation course, a problem-based learning framework was selected for laboratory instruction. Two acquisition chains were designed to help students carry out realistic instrumentation problems. The first tool is a virtual (simulated) modular acquisition chain that allows rapid overall understanding of the main problems in instrumentation. The second tool is an actual modular chain allowing students to test these modules in practice and fine-tune the results. The didactic impact of the laboratory-and especially of the two acquisition chains-was evaluated using three approaches: an evaluation questionnaire, the problem outcomes, and a written examination. These results show that the students valued the laboratory-based coursework and found both tools useful. Furthermore, they were able to address problems at a high cognitive level. View full abstract»

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  • Teaching Sustainability Analysis in Electrical Engineering Lab Courses

    Page(s): 243 - 247
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    Laboratory courses represent an incompletely tapped opportunity to teach sustainability concepts. This work introduces and evaluates a simple strategy used to teach sustainability concepts in electrical engineering laboratory courses. The technique would readily adapt to other disciplines. The paper presents assessment data and a wiki containing student sustainability analyses. View full abstract»

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  • A Computer Model for Teaching the Dynamic Behavior of AC Contactors

    Page(s): 248 - 256
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    Ac-powered contactors are extensively used in industry in applications such as automatic electrical devices, motor starters, and heaters. In this work, a practical session that allows students to model and simulate the dynamic behavior of ac-powered electromechanical contactors is presented. Simulation is carried out using a rigorous parametric model of the ac contactor that avoids simplification assumptions and is thoroughly explained. The goal of this practical is to introduce students to the topic of dynamic simulation of real devices. It covers both the transient and the steady-state response of the electromechanical system under study. The proposed methodology is flexible and not particularly time-consuming, and it allows the students easily to change the electromechanical constants of the contactor they are studying. The results of the simulations were compared with experimental data acquired by the students; a close similarity between real and simulated data was observed. The Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), Spain, has incorporated the simulation methodology proposed in this paper in a practical session of an electrical engineering course. View full abstract»

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  • Evaluation of Final Examination Papers in Engineering: A Case Study Using Bloom's Taxonomy

    Page(s): 257 - 264
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (668 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Questions are used to obtain information, stimulate thinking, and redirect reasoning. Academics in higher education use questions on a daily basis to stimulate thinking and reasoning in students. Final examination papers are used by academics to assess the retention and application skills of students. The assumption, however, exists that questions relating to application skills at universities of technology should start to dominate the higher academic levels in education, with a subsequent drop in questions regarding retention skills. These questions may be categorized as either higher order or lower order questions. This article attempts to distinguish between these two types of questions in light of Bloom's taxonomy, with similar concepts such as deep and surface learning being examined. The literature review is applied to an electrical engineering module titled Electronics, which serves as the case study. The results of this study indicate that a high percentage of the final examination papers dealt with the objective ¿Application,¿ where students had to make use of numerous mathematical equations to solve various unknowns. The results also indicated that academics in electronics are using more lower order than higher order questions in their final examination papers. A balance is suggested between these two types of questions for various academic levels at universities of technology. View full abstract»

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  • A Matlab/Simulink-Based Interactive Module for Servo Systems Learning

    Page(s): 265 - 271
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    This paper presents an interactive module for learning both the fundamental and practical issues of servo systems. This module, developed using Simulink in conjunction with the Matlab graphical user interface (Matlab-GUI) tool, is used to supplement conventional lectures in control engineering and robotics subjects. First, the paper introduces the theoretical background of servo systems. Then, the interactive module is presented, with a description of its main features as well some hints on how to integrate Simulink models within Matlab-GUI. Some of the module's capabilities are illustrated through classroom examples. Finally, the experience of putting this into use and student assessment of the tool are also addressed. View full abstract»

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  • System-on-Chip Design and Implementation

    Page(s): 272 - 281
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    The system-on-chip module described here builds on a grounding in digital hardware and system architecture. It is thus appropriate for third-year undergraduate computer science and computer engineering students, for post-graduate students, and as a training opportunity for post-graduate research students. The course incorporates significant practical work to illustrate the material taught and is centered around a single design example of a drawing machine. The exercises are composed so that students can regard themselves as part of a design team where they undertake the complete design of their own particular section of the system. These design tasks range from algorithmic specification and transaction-level modeling (TLM) of the architecture down to describing the design at the register transfer level (RTL) with subsequent verification of their prototype on a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). With this approach, students are able to explore and gain experience of the different techniques used at each level of the design hierarchy and the problems in translating to the next level down. Throughout the module, there is emphasis on using industry standard tools for the modeling and simulation, leading to the use of the SystemC and Verilog hardware description languages and Cadence for the simulation environment. View full abstract»

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  • A Novel Analog Integrated Circuit Design Course Covering Design, Layout, and Resulting Chip Measurement

    Page(s): 282 - 287
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (261 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This work describes a novel, first-year graduate-level analog integrated circuit (IC) design course. The course teaches students analog circuit design; an external manufacturer then produces their designs in three different silicon chips. The students, working in pairs, then test these chips to verify their success. All work is completed within one semester, and the grading cycle in the most recent offering of the course extended from September 2007 to February 2008, when there were 10 students enrolled. The manufacturer's shuttle cycle is 3.5 months. Most students in the course have only a college-level electronics background. The manufacturing process is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 0.35 ¿m CMOS Mixed-Signal 2P4M Polycide 3.3/5 V. The three successful chips consist of a voltage controlled oscillator, a high-performance differential amplifier, and a temperature-independent voltage reference generator. Section VI describes assessment and student feedback as well as proposed course improvement. View full abstract»

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  • Support for Different Roles in Software Engineering Master's Thesis Projects

    Page(s): 288 - 296
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (365 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Like many engineering programs in Europe, the final part of most Swedish software engineering programs is a longer project in which the students write a Master's thesis. These projects are often conducted in cooperation between a university and industry, and the students often have two supervisors, one at the university and one in industry. In particular, the Bologna Process that is currently underway to align different higher educational programs in Europe discusses industrial Master's theses as a major type of thesis project. However, there is a lack of knowledge on how best to support these projects and the different stakeholders involved. This paper presents a study where students and supervisors from software engineering Master's thesis projects at three different Swedish universities are interviewed. The intention of the study is to explore what the major problems of different stakeholders are during a project and to investigate what type of support is needed. Based on the interview results, a support model is defined, which outlines the different types of support that are needed for different roles in Master's thesis projects. View full abstract»

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  • Innovative Teaching of IC Design and Manufacture Using the Superchip Platform

    Page(s): 297 - 305
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    This paper describes how an intelligent chip architecture has allowed a large cohort of undergraduate (UG) students to be given effective practical insight into integrated circuit (IC) design by designing and manufacturing their own ICs. To achieve this, an efficient chip architecture, the ¿Superchip,¿ was developed, which allows multiple student designs to be fabricated on a single IC, and encapsulated in a standard package without excessive cost in terms of time or resources. This paper demonstrates how the practical process has been tightly coupled with theoretical aspects of the degree course and how transferable skills are incorporated into the design exercise. Furthermore, the students are introduced at an early stage to the key concepts of teamwork, exposure to real deadlines, and collaborative report writing. This paper provides details of the teaching rationale, design exercise overview, design process, chip architecture, and test regime. View full abstract»

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  • MATLAB Meets LEGO Mindstorms—A Freshman Introduction Course Into Practical Engineering

    Page(s): 306 - 317
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1341 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    In today's teaching and learning approaches for first-semester students, practical courses more and more often complement traditional theoretical lectures. This practical element allows an early insight into the real world of engineering, augments student motivation, and enables students to acquire soft skills early. This paper describes a new freshman introduction course into practical engineering, which has been established within the Bachelor of Science curriculum of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology of RWTH Aachen University, Germany. The course is organized as an eight-day, full-time block laboratory for over 300 freshman students, who were supervised by more than 60 tutors from 23 institutes of the Electrical Engineering Department. Based on a threefold learning concept comprising mathematical methods, MATLAB programming, and practical engineering, the students were required to transfer mathematical basics to algorithms in MATLAB in order to control LEGO Mindstorms robots. Toward this end, a new toolbox, called the ¿RWTH-Mindstorms NXT Toolbox,¿ was developed, which enables the robots to be controlled remotely via MATLAB from a host computer. This paper describes how the laboratory course is organized and how it induces students to think as actual engineers would in solving real-world tasks with limited resources. Evaluation results show that the project improves the students' MATLAB programming skills, enhances motivation, and enables a peer learning process. View full abstract»

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  • The Impact of a Peer-Learning Agent Based on Pair Programming in a Programming Course

    Page(s): 318 - 327
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (820 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This paper analyzes the educational effects of a peer-learning agent based on pair programming in programming courses. A peer-learning agent system was developed to facilitate the learning of a programming language through the use of pair programming strategies. This system is based on the role of a peer-learning agent from pedagogical and technical aspects and simulates the "tutor" and "tutee." The peer-learning agent uses artificial intelligence methods with a Bayesian network as well as teaching and learning methods that simulate pair programming. This paper develops a model for determining students' programming abilities. In addition, the roles of the tutor and tutee are like the roles of a navigator and driver in pair programming. The developed agent system is demonstrated to have positive effects on knowledge retention and transfer in a programming course, with a greater influence on transfer than on retention. This model combining peer-learning agents with a teaching and learning strategy is more effective in helping learners to acquire programming skills. View full abstract»

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  • A Cost-Effective Atomic Force Microscope for Undergraduate Control Laboratories

    Page(s): 328 - 334
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    This paper presents a simple, cost-effective and robust atomic force microscope (AFM), which has been purposely designed and built for use as a teaching aid in undergraduate controls labs. The guiding design principle is to have all components be open and visible to the students, so the inner functioning of the microscope has been made clear to see. All of the parts but one are off the shelf, and assembly time is generally less than two days, which makes the microscope a robust instrument that is readily handled by the students with little chance of damage. While the scanning resolution is nowhere near that of a commercial instrument, it is more than sufficient to take interesting scans of micrometer-scale objects. A survey of students after their having used the AFM resulted in a generally good response, with 80% agreeing that they had a positive learning experience. View full abstract»

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  • 2009 IEEE Education Society Awards and Frontiers in Education Conference Awards

    Page(s): 335 - 340
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  • 2009 IEEE Educational Activities Board Awards

    Page(s): 341 - 346
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    Freely Available from IEEE
  • Revista Iberoamericana de Tecnologias del/da Aprendizaje/Aprendizagem (IEEE/RITA) A Latin-American Learning Technologies Journal

    Page(s): 347
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    Freely Available from IEEE
  • IEEE-RITA (Latin-America Learning Technologies Journal)

    Page(s): 348
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    Freely Available from IEEE

Aims & Scope

Educational research, methods, materials, programs, and technology in electrical engineering, computer engineering, and fields within the scope of interest of IEEE.

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Meet Our Editors

Editor-in-Chief
Jeffrey E. Froyd
Texas A&M University