June 2016

Making the Freshman Experience 'Cool' & Retentive

  Dear ECEDHA Members, Industry Partners, and Colleagues,

Welcome to the June issue of the ECE Source.

Is your department experimenting with fresh approaches to transform the first-year ECE student experience? We would like to hear from you!

In this edition of the Source, we are pleased to feature some of the efforts at the University of Maryland. The faculty team at Maryland is exploring dramatic ways to convey the excitement, societal impact, and impressive breadth of our discipline to freshmen with the overarching goal of advancing the learning experience and improving student retention. By carefully hiding the technical complexities that the students will learn later in the curriculum, they are able to provide freshmen with an early “bird’s eye view” of a surprisingly advanced (for freshmen) range of topics including circuits, electromagnetic spectra, waves, feedback control, image and signal processing, microcontrollers, mobile computing, operating systems, software engineering, power, and ethics. While this approach is undeniably resource intensive, it seems like a particularly engaging way to provide the application context in which students can better learn the usual first-year basics. Importantly, the conveyed “coolness” of the our discipline will encourage more of the students to stay in ECE. It would be fascinating to see the data showing how this experiment alters ECE student learning and retention trends. It would also be interesting learn how ideas from the “Maryland Experiment" can be adapted by other ECE departments across the world.

Best regards,

Badri Roysam
Professor and Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Houston
2015-2016 Editor-in-Chief, The ECE Source Newsletter

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