February 2015

Current Views

By Barry Sullivan, Program Director, ECEDHA


ECEDHA Conference Topics in the News

As soon as the ECEDHA Program Committee began brainstorming topic ideas for the 2015 Annual Conference, my eye has been drawn to related stories in the news.  I have selected a sampling of these news items for the "ECE in the News" section for this issue, to accompany the conference overview included among the feature articles.

The maker movement is the modern descendant of earlier generations of tinkerers who built go-carts from lawnmower parts and computers from salvaged electronic components.  We are fortunate to have a sponsored breakout session from Digilent on how to leverage the maker culture to enhance ECE education in the conference program.  If the slideshow from last year’s Maker Faire Bay Area is any indication, instructional labs will look very different from the ones in my undergraduate experience.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) grabbed a lot of headlines and the notice of educators from many disciplines over the past couple years.  MOOCs and advances in online education have been addressed at past ECEDHA Annual Conferences as well with featured speakers, panel discussions, and workshops covering various aspects of distributed learning for engineering.  Just as press attention has shifted to the value of integrating online technologies into more traditional higher education, this year’s conference program will include a breakout session on blended learning in electrical and computer engineering.

The past year has also produced a lot of news items on the Internet of Things (IoT).  Some might say this is just another phase in the evolution of machine-to-machine communications, while others see this as taking the Internet to a new level of ubiquity with serious implications for the security and integrity of critical infrastructure.  To explore these issues, the ECEDHA Program Committee has assembled a panel of experts to share their views on emerging IoT technologies and what they mean for ECE education.

In addition to considering how technology can enable new educational approaches, several conference sessions will look at electrical and computer engineering education in a broader sense.  One breakout session will be devoted to the future of ECE education, while another will focus on undergraduate education in particular.  For an idea of what might be discussed in these sessions, consider a recent interview with an Olin College professor and author, and his ideas on the need for revolutionary changes in engineering education.

Finally, the image of electrical and computer engineering and our ability to attract students has been a topic of formal and informal conversation at the Annual Conference for several years.  According to a recent article on how academics describe their work, the way we communicate with the general public is an essential part of the image we project.  As for the substance of the message, keynote speakers and breakout sessions at this year’s conference will address it, as well as the Industry Roundtable panelists, who will share and expand on the results of a brainstorming exercise at the summer meeting of the ECEDHA Corporate Advisory Council.

The ECEDHA Program Committee strives to ensure the timeliness and relevance of topics covered at the Annual Conference.  Judging from press coverage of topics planned for the 2015 program, it appears they have succeeded.  And if you join us in Hilton Head on March 13-17, you can judge for yourself.


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