Engineering students at the University have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience throughout their studies. This begins in the first semester as students engage in a common-engineering experience built around a 2-hour lecture and 3-hour laboratory course. In this course, students explore the engineering profession and develop competency with professional and technical skills that unite all engineers across all disciplines. They practice these skills in lab exercises with applications drawn from the disciplines of the institution: Civil Engineering/Construction Management, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. During their second semester, students take a discipline-specific 2-hour lecture, 3-hour lab course where they delve deeper into their chosen program of study and career path. In this paper, we will discuss how an embedded systems approach is used to further showcase fundamental and future areas of study for Electrical and Computer Engineering students at the University. In the laboratory portion of the course, students develop technical and professional lab skills as they use simple benchtop equipment and the Arduino microcontroller to explore fundamental areas of electrical engineering including circuits, electronics, electric machines, power electronics, control systems, signals/sampling theory, programming fundamentals, and basic logic. Examples of such exercises include: sampling a basic DC voltage divider output, sampling analog time-varying signals and converting PWM digital signals to analog voltages, controlling the operation of a brushless DC motor, exploring the use of a boost converter and automatically compensating for voltage input fluctuations, and developing a portable spectrophotometer to study water quality in third-world countries. These experiences provide a foundation of skills to support the students in their more advanced courses; they are a rich common set of experiences for instructors to reference throughout the more advanced courses, they connect students to the School of Engineering, and they serve as motivating, mastery experiences for the students early in their academic careers. Following the presentation of the pedagogical course design, a discussion of student attitudes and lessons learned from multiple course executions will be presented.
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