2019 FYEE Conference

We ARe…DUINO! a project-based first-year experience, collaborative with the IEEE student chapter

Presented at M1B: WIP - Learning Experiences 2

We ARe…DUINO! a project-based first-year experience, collaborative with the IEEE student chapter

Tim Kane* and Erica Venkatesulu
School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the Pennsylvania State University
* 814-863-8727, tjk7@psu.edu

In this work-in-progress paper, we will invite discussion about our recent and ongoing efforts in developing a first-year experience for Electrical Engineering (EE). A common desire of undergraduates in EE (and we suspect across engineering in general) is for more “hands-on” experiences. What little they get tends to be later in their college career; however, as the Do-It-Yourself (DIY)/Make culture continues to grow, more of our students are walking in the door ready and willing to “get their hands dirty” on day one. Couple this with an old One-Room-Schoolhouse approach and we have the crux behind this project: Guiding established students (associated with IEEE) to assist in instruction focused on “getting hands dirty” … EE style! The goal is to inspire a generation to work with their hands, as well as attract a subset into the EE fold.

A hands-on first–year engineering experience seminar (FYS) has been developed here at Penn State, based around acquainting students with the usage of an Arduino microcontroller (a major building block for many a DIY project). It has been taught since Fall 2017 (Fa17). The Fa17/Sp18 classes were led by IEEE student leader Josh Cetnar. Each semester has included team project development and presentations, which has seemed to up enthusiasm levels markedly. Final Fa17 project demo day was attended by the dean, department, and school heads. Two of the students from Fa18 were recruited and have become active members of the IEEE. The course continues to evolve under the new teaching intern (and co-author of this paper) Erica Venkatesulu for Fa18-Sp19, with additional freshman joining in on IEEE activities. Erica will also return for Fa19-Sp20.

Our premise for this effort is that peer instruction at the entry level is more effective at inspiring/motivating new students to choose an experimental engineering career path (with an obviously hopeful bias towards EE, of course). In other words, the novelty of this work isn’t necessarily the hands-on aspect (though that was our original driving factor), it’s the ownership of the seminar by potential peers.

Assessment is currently our primary challenge, hence this WIP paper with its implied solicitation of ideas. Some methodologies are being explored. For example, anecdotal in-class evidence has been collected over these original 4 semesters. In addition to this, we will discuss results of outreach to former students as we begin to see what long-term impact the seminar has on their subsequent college and career choices. Our hope is to expand to multiple seminars, each based on technologies useful to the DIY ethic (e.g., Raspberry Pi, Wearable Tech, etc.). Finally, we look forward to brainstorming ideas for future/further directions at the conference

  1. Prof. Tim Kane Pennsylvania State University, University Park [biography]
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