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ECE Culminating Design Experience

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Electrical & Computer Engineering Fall 2019 Graduates

Electrical & Computer Engineering Culminating Design Experience

Electrical and Computer engineering students develop skills for the various elements of the design process throughout the curriculum, culminating in a design course sequence during the senior year. At least 13 credits in the electrical and computer engineering programs involve significant design components, starting in the freshman year and culminating in the senior year when they take three senior design courses. In addition, several of the senior-level technical electives also include significant design components.

Students are first exposed to design concepts as freshmen in ENGN 110 Introduction to Engineering and Technology I. The design experiences of the computer engineering students build up through some of the sophomore-level and junior-level courses. Many small-scale design considerations are presented throughout these courses. For example, the core 200-level ECE course, ECE 241 Fundamentals in Computer Engineering with its associated lab component, contain homework and labs problems involving designs of digital circuits. In ECE 287 Fundamental Electric Circuit Laboratory, students have hands on experience in building and testing useful electronic circuits using a microcontroller. In ECE 313 Electronic Circuits, and the associated laboratory, students design, build, and test amplifier circuits.

The curriculum culminates with three senior design courses: ECE 485W Electrical Engineering Design I or ECE 484W Computer Engineering Design I and the two-semester sequence, ECE 486 Preparatory for ECE Design II and ECE 487 ECE Design II. ECE 485W and ECE 484W are designed to be a writing intensive, structured introduction to practical designs laboratory, and to prepare students to join the engineering workforce. In this course, electrical and computer engineering students, working in teams, design and test electronic subsystems to address realistic engineering problems. (The ECE 484W class will be available synchronously to online program students who will be able to join a team and have access to equipment at home design and test their electronic subsystems.) ECE 486 and 487, the two-semester ECE Design II course sequence, form an open and team oriented multidisciplinary design experience. Multidisciplinary groups of students (typically 3, although the number varies depending on the project) select a project suggested by a faculty member or by a local industry, and then design, build, test and report on the project. In ECE 486 the students learn to work as a team to solve an engineering problem. In this course, the students produce a technical proposal that defines the problem and develops technical specifications that are used in proposed design procedures. The proposal is graded by the faculty advisor and three faculty judges. Expectations are made clear by the grading rubrics. (Lectures offered in ECE 486 will be made synchronously available to the online program students. Projects will be specifically designated as suitable for online collaboration by adding a clear design statement that allows members of the project group to interact effectively online. All meetings with faculty advisors and all presentations will be structured to allow online program members of the group to participate.) The project is finalized in ECE 487. In this last course of the major design experience, students get significant feedback not only on their report writing but also on their technical presentation skills. Some of the senior design teams regularly participate in regional and international competitions. For example, the teams have participated in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), VEX Worlds-VEX U Division, and the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC).