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Weasel Words: The following page was written after a long feeling of utter frustration followed by a couple of Beers. (did I say a couple?)  From that came a stream of consciousness/semi-consciousness, the result of which is in need of serious editing; but upon several sober considerations, I can't find that I disagree with it.  The reader's input, comment, criticism, is invited, Please!              --  webmaster
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--- T. O. C. --- 
Students into Engineers:
Student as Client
Model of an Engineer
Delivering the Engineer:
The Entrepreneur Model
Television as an Object
Teaching Effectiveness
School Emulates Industry:
Quality Control
Learning in the Round
Input Filter
The Great GPA Myth
Felder's Cone of Learning
Traditional Progression
Proposed Progression
Playing = Success
Apprenticeship
Environment
Instruction
Abstractions
Motivation
Tools
Learning by Doing
Exploratorium
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Secondary Education 
University Education
Dipsticks
The New  Education

 
_-_-_-_ The Object Oriented Education Paradigm _-_-_-_
(Project Oriented Design)
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By Glen A. Williamson      1996
webmaster
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Questions to Ask when Designing an Entity that Transforms Students into Engineers


1) Define: What is an Engineer at this point-in-time, and in the Foreseeable Future --> Create a Model
 

2) Who hires Engineers; What Skills do they Require; What do they want Engineers to Do for them?
 

3) What is Needed--Today--to Educate, Train, and to Prepare Young People to become Good Engineers?
 

4) Is it Possible?  And, if it is, at What Costs?
 

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S t u d e n t--as--C l i e n t 

In a conversation with Ralph Cavin, former ECE Department Head:

 "...You know Glen, the Student is the Client, and we're here to Serve the Client."
 

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Create an Accurate--Model
of the--Engineer--and the--Engineering Environment
Ask Industry What They Want in an Engineer.

Industry's Forecast of the Engineering Environment for the next Five Years; the next Ten Years.

Project the Model based on these Forecasts.
 

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Delivering the Engineer:

If any competent engineer needed to teach or train an apprentice his "trade," he would never design a curriculum like the one that exist now (and more than likely similar to what he was trained under).

He might approach the Design in the following manner :
1) He would start with a clean sheet of paper.
2) List the desired results: he would write a spec on the product to be developed: a Good Engineer.
3) Define the problem.
4) Resources needed; Resources available.
5) Environment: under what conditions this is to be accomplished, i.e., social, political, economic, etc.
6) Impediments to be overcome: see line number 5.
7) Research effective proven methods
8) Examine tradition: Things that are done out ot tradition, need to be examined for their relevance, and preserved or abandoned as appropriate.
 

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The E n t r e p r e n e u r  Model

The Entrepreneur model and the Project Oriented Design Approach have complementary components, with the added benefit of the student having a direct personal investment in the outcome of his "labors." The individual and the group benefit.

This eludes to a construct of paying
students as employees, for work done.

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Teaching Effectiveness
&
L e a r n i n g

Today, the Curriculum is such that, the very first day, the Student is Assaulted by Abstractions and Mathematical Theorems, that have no meaning to him. Felders Cone of Learning

These Definitions are Thrust upon him in the belief that, "once the student has mastered the necessary Tools, then the process of serious Learning can Begin." As logical as that might sound to some people, it flies in the face of Human Nature. The perception by the student and the effect it has on that student, goes totally unappreciated by the faculty. "Hell, that's how we had to learn it!"
To put it bluntly, the process robs the student of any chance they have of enjoying their next four years. And, if that sounds frivolous, it's anything but: To Enjoy Learning is the Holy Grail!
 

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Text Books
Many text books have the Step Function Effect: the first few pages look like just what you've been looking for. "Finally! I've found a Text Book that's going to lead me into the subject gradually, so I'll understand it."
Then you get to page ten, "What-tha-Hell!" All of a sudden you start looking for the missing pages!
You have just been dropped twelve stories by the author, and his blue-pencil wheedling, Editor!  --Bummer

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School Should Emulate Industry:

The Project Oriented Approach: Enables the Learn by Doing Paradigm. 

Responsibility: As in Industry, Everyone has Responsibilities, and must Depend on Each Other. 

In physical Layout: Every Person has their own "Space," with their own Networked Workstation and fully Equipped Lab Bench for Learning by Doing!

Access: Like Industry, to get the Job Done, all Members (students & faculty) have Access to the Entire Facility and Resources there in.

Vesting: Wages to students for "work" done, as though they were employees. The base pay scale predicated on the year or grade level of the student, with variations within that scale based on performance, and bonuses for Extra work.
 

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Quality Control in Teaching/Learning Effectiveness
W. Edwards Deming, the creator of Statistical Process Control, believed in making the product's value in the customer's hands part of the dynamic in his Statistical Process Control: directly affecting the quality of the product as its latest incarnation is in the process of manufacture. It is an endless iterative process--and It Works!

Follow Up: Education creates a product with a much longer expected product life than most products today. Because of that and the specter of early obsolescence, there needs to be Quality Validation of the former student as entry level employee, as well as, seasoned employee.
 

--> INPUT
Raw Materials
The Process End Product
(out the door)->
  Product in the Field
^ Selection ^ <-- Process Control   Final ^ Inspection Customer ^ Follow-up
& Post Mortem
 
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Learning in the R o u n d
 

The One Room School House Metaphor:

The Envisioned Classroom is Reminiscent of the Little Red School House, of days gone by.
It is a Structure Built on Totally Integrated and Interconnected Disciplines. No Discrete Isolated Courses, e.g., No Math for math's sake, but Math as a Relevant and Timely Tool, Sought out by the Student to Solve Relevant Problems! Abstractionsheld to an absolute Minimum! 

"Tools have Little Relevance, in the Absence of the Machinery to Which they Attend." __ gaw, 1996

Dynamic Learning:
Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors rubbing elbows, working together on common problems, each bringing their own individual Skills and Insights.

This milieu engenders Peer to Peer communications, or "Lateral Learning."

Mentoring:
Mentoring Peer to Peer
 

The student's progression through the course material of the engineering curriculum: 

1) Definitions, mathematics, theory, hands-on; needs to be reversed and integrated: design, hands-on, theory, mathematics, integrated and taught concurrently, progressing in complexity and difficulty. There must be glitter and shinny bobbles judicially mixed with the bitter tasting medicine of the abstract and unconnected theory.

2) Ergonomics and Marketing should also be part of the Mix.
 

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Input Filter
(i.e., Selectivity at the Front End) 
"Real motivation can only come from students who are willing, as well as, able Participants." __ gaw, 1996

Matching the right student to the right career path is crucial. This is especially true in engineering.

Aptitude and I.Q. are only a small part of the attributes that make up a good engineer. After all, engineering is analysis, design, invention and adaptation; these attributes are less circumscribed than the traditional "engineering" archetype.

"If your are in electrical engineering for any other reason than You Love It! You are in the wrong career."__ gaw, 1996

Filtering the Filter

One problem that occurs at the high school level, is poor 
  faulty advising received by rising seniors. 
  They are often told that "EEs make lots of money."

The University and Industry should have an outreach program that addresses this faulty career choice.
 

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The  G r e a t    G P A Myth
or
the Students can play thatG a m e Too!

"Gee, do I try to get the highest GPA by remembering everything verbatim, and regurgitating it on the test--learning little in the process?" 

"Or should I try to learn something while I'm here, and run the risk of a poor GPA--and maybe no job?" Duh...

The Endless Loop of:
...Memorize Cheating Memorize Cheating Memorize Cheating
Memorize Cheating Memorize Cheating Memorize Cheating...
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Teaching Techniques, verses Retention
Felder's Cone of Learning
From Dr. Richard Felder's Teaching Effectiveness workbook, developed and revised by Bruce Hyland, from material by Edgar Dale.
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Progression of Subject Introduction
Traditional-Progression
To have a curriculum and teaching style that requires the student to learn in an abstract way for three and a half years, and then tell them: "Oh, by the way, here's how to be an engineer," is not the way to train a good engineer.

Proposed-Progression
From the day an engineering student sets foot on campus, they should be thrown into "what it means to be an engineer. Starting with "hands-on," hardware involvement and continuing until graduation.
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Desired Progression
Play --> 
Fun --> 
Enthusiasm -->
Motivation --> 
Effort -->
Design --> 
Curiosity -->
Theory --> 
Satisfaction --> 
Self Study --> 
= | Educated Engineer |
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Object/Project Oriented Education Paradigm

Project/Product Oriented approach to Learning:

Each student would be assigned (their preference) to a product oriented group. There they would have shared responsibilities for the outcome of the group's efforts, on a rotating basis (exposure to all facets of the process).

Projects should be relevant to the student interests;

Something as simple as one's stereo, to their personal automobile's air-conditioning computer, to a better method of loudspeaker design.

The entrepreneur model that Dr. Tom Miller has so effectively nurtured at NCSU is a mechanism that is needed. [2]

Where are the Jobs Coming From?

The trend today, in this country, is that the individual entrepreneur--not big companies--are generating the new jobs.

Any competent engineer, armed with a leased computer, EDA software, and an inspired vision of what the world can't live without, can be the employer of tomorrow.

Another incitement to excellence (or effort) is sharing in the outcome, i.e., shared revenue by those that do the work.

The thought of a state supported institution paying its own way with revenues from the entrepreneurial student/faculty synergy--I digress (dream).

The effort put forward by the student will be in direct proportion to how much the student feels a part of the outcome.

FUN, and society; have social redemption, etc. Projects are relevant to the student...

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Apprenticeship
Student & Mentor Relationship

Individual, one-on-one In a democratic society where everyone is ostensibly equal, we seem to use rank and titles to create barriers that hinder and cripple the mission of what a school is all about: passing on needed skills and helping the student develop those abilities required to cope with the future. It also has a corrosive effect on society at large. The title of "Doctor" or "Professor" or even "Mister," puts everyone in their place. It makes communications an unpleasant task: and it conditions the student to not even attempt it-- "it's too painful." The motives for this sort of class warfare are many, but the more obvious are: tradition, ego, fear of discovery, and any number of other indefensible reasons. To communicate requires one to insert their "credit card" and pay homage in units of "pride."

Co-op Education: High quality, High Tech, Industry Affiliated "Jobs," not "gopher" type jobs, can be the most important part of a student's education., the perfect Learning Environment. See APPENDIX A

The Client: The school is an institution that furnishes a service for a fee. This payment by the student (deferred loans, taxes, etc.) makes the student the customer to be served by the school. But the mission of serving the customer is lost and there is a juxtaposition of roles, to wit, the student pays to be treated as a second class citizen, as well as abuse and neglect at the hands of the administration and faculty. The preoccupation with research with its attendant diversion of talent and resources: leaves the students at the mercy of teaching assistants (with dubious qualifications) and having to fin for themselves. The poison-in-the-well, is tenure: accountability is the only real quality control the process has, and tenure negates that accountability completely.

The crowning irony to all this is, though the student is manifestly cognizant of the "system," upon graduation and moving "up in the world," they make no effort to change or improve that system, and they end up sending their own children into that same system. Hands-on: Hardware involvement starting in the freshman year and continuing until graduation. To have a curriculum and teaching style that requires the student to learn in an abstract way for three and a half years, and then tell them: "Oh, by the way, here's how to be an engineer," is not the way to teach a good engineer. From the day an engineering student sets foot on campus, they should be thrown into "what it means to be an engineer" (or what ever they're in school to be!). 

 
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Motivation
The student is motivated for a complex number of reasons.
Four of which seem to predominate:

1) The student has curiosity and finds learning satisfies that curiosity.

2) The student is scared he will fail if he doesn't apply himself, therefore he learns. Often this fear of failure is not wanting to let his family down, or fearing the father's "disappointment." 

3) The third is motivated by ego, a compelling need to maintain his image, he has neither curiosity nor fear of failure. 

4) Then finally there is the most rare of students, the one who will learn regardless, he has neither curiosity nor fear of failure. 

There is no judgment as to which motive is good and which is bad, they all get the job done. However, there may be a difference in job satisfaction or even the "quality of life." 

The student who is not motivated is--sad to say--the rule and not the exception.

As with the motivated students, there are several categories of non-motivated students: 

1) The first is the student who has curiosity about many things, but not about the subject area he has chosen. Fortunately, this student can profit from simply finding an area he enjoys. 

2) Then there is the student who is there under duress: he would rather be anywhere else than there!
 

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First Pay Check:
Human Nature: I have a task that needs doing, and doing in a timely fashion. I will attempt to get the task done using two different strategies:

1) I will ask to have it done as a favor--no pay offered;

2) I will offer to pay a wage for the work.

Everything else being the same: which strategy will work the most often? 
On average, the payment approach gets quick response; the favor approach elicits promises, and procrastination.

Example: Compare the level of participation of a student in school, verses that same student after school, as a minimum wage employee.
 

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Quality Control

Quality Control in Education: The customer--the student, the student's parents, and society-- deserves the assurance of Quality in Education. 

Just as we have come to expect Quality when they take delivery of the family automobile from the dealer; we should expect no less attention to the needs and expectations of those to be educated from the educational establishment. 

The automotive industry survives and flourishes because it--late in the game--took direction from W. Edwards Deming. Deming’s Process Control relies for direction from the consumer, not the bureaucracy, to define value. 

The producer invents value. To improve future results, the producer must improve the process. People have intrinsic motivation. They want to do a good job. Every person, process, and system is part of an interdependent larger system. And continual learning is the basis for continual improvement. 

So what does all this mean? 

It means that IMPROVED Quality in Education is accomplished by Educators Learning to take direction from the Customer, not the bureaucracy, NOR themselves.
 

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The Physical Plant
Classroom Environment
Learning in the classroom is either aided or impeded by its environment. In most cases the control of the environment in the classroom (or most office buildings) is left to the "maintenance man," who--on average--has no training for the task, not to mention an education not exceeding grade school. And to make matters worse, if they are given instructions by the administration, it is with an eye toward energy costs, not the health and well-being of the students and staff. The Irony of all this, is that despite all the effort and expense and talent that goes in to giving a good education to our children--the next generation--that it is abridged by such poor judgment on the part of the administration.

Fresh Air
Fresh air in the class room is essential for learning and good health. Fresh air in the stairwells is also essential to good health: Climbing the stairs, e.g., four flights at a time is not uncommon--bad air is taken in during, what can be a strenuous effort, especially by the older staff members in the building. It is generally recognized by physiologists, that inhalation of "bad air" during exercise can be detrimental to one's health. Temperature It is generally excepted, that learning is directly related to alertness; and that alertness can be markedly affected by ambient temperature. The evidence suggests that 68 degrees Fahrenheit is optimum (@ 65% RH); and that six degrees either side has a diminution of alertness by as much as 40%. A temperature deviation of an additional 5 degrees reduces the student's alertness coefficient another 22%, resulting in a significant impairment of the learning process. Humidity As temperature and air quality (absent toxic or inhibiting gasses) are related to learning, humidity is the third "element" of that triad. At certain temperatures, Relative Humidity (RH) has the effect of altering the body's ability to deal with the ambient temperature. Also, in very dry seasons (winter) or climates, respiratory distress can be exacerbated and as well as illnesses communicated more readily.

Lighting 
That's a no brainer! Spare no expense, optimized lighting for all occasions, reading, flat screens, craft, etc., even individualized lighting, if needed.

Desks
Physical arrangement of the desks for optimum learning is important. The farther the student is from the instructor the less good-effect there is. A close circle can create an intimacy that is conducive to learning.
 

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Learning Environment
Learning in the Round

Lectures and Labs should not be separate: Lectures by their very nature are not an efficient method of transferring information. [1] 

If lecturing is necessary, it should not be a separate stand-alone process but an integrated hands on "Show & Tell." 

The one room school house metaphor: 
The envisioned classroom would be reminiscent of the little red school house of days gone by. At first glance it would seem chaotic and completely disorganized. However, after being a participant for a little while, You start to notice there is a lot going on. If you have a question you turn and simply ask. There's always someone who not only knows, but is willing to help you with it.

Peer to Peer Communications
I have discovered that one of the most effective communicators:
I have twice had a former student, David Hendricks, speak to my students. He did a remarkable job of capturing the imagination of over forty graduating seniors. On both occasions, I would later hear him quoted by my students--a unique experience, to say the least. As anyone, who has lectured before engineering students, will tell you: keeping their attention, and communicating--for fifty minutes--is not the easiest of accomplishments. 

In examining his success, I concluded the attributes he had going for him, older more learned faculty members didn't have:
Age, he was much nearer their generation, therefore they could relate. 

Credibility, he had succeeded well in ECE480, he had graduated, he was working as an electrical engineer. They believed what he told them, they had no reason to doubt what he said. 

By his optimistic approach: telling the students it can be done, "I did it, its no mystery, you can do it too"; they saw themselves closer to being successful. 

Desired Attributes: 
Lateral Learning;

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Emulate Industry
School should emulate Industry:
In Physical Layout:
Every person has their own "space," a desk, a cubical or an office of their own until they finish school.

In that space, each student would have his own personal networked PC workstation,

his own fully equipped lab bench (with supplies), for playing/experimenting, i.e., Learning by Doing!

In industry, in order to get the job done in the most efficient way, all "employees" have access to the entire facility and resources there in.

The Rank of each individual is based more on responsibility than "grade level."
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Input Filter
(i.e., Selectivity at the Front End)

"Real motivation can only come from students who are willing, as well as, able Participants."__ gaw, 1996
Matching the right student to the right career path is crucial.
This is especially true in engineering.
Aptitude and I.Q. are only a small part of the attributes that make up a good engineer. After all, engineering is analysis, design, invention and adaptation; these attributes are less circumscribed than the traditional "engineering" archetype.
One problem that occurs at the high school level, that directly affects the quality and content of the entering freshmen, is the faulty advising received by the rising senior. The advice they receive is given about engineering as a career, by advisors who--it is clear--are clueless about engineering. In an informal canvas of graduating university seniors (ECE480), when asked what made them choose engineering as a career, the vast majority say they were told [by their high school advisor] that "electrical engineering, and 'computers,' was a good place to make lots of money, and there is good job security, and that their (the student's) SAT scores indicated they would have little trouble: 'because, your scores show that you're good in math & science'."
The truth is that electrical engineering is, and has always been a volatile career, both in job security (average job stay is less than five years) and salary levels. For the skill level and education required, engineering generally, and electrical engineering in particular, is underpaid and under respected as a profession (with some justification).
The desirability, by industry, of entry level EE verses the over-forty seasoned EE, is pretty depressing. Not many years ago, age 55 was the upper bound on hiring, then it took a sudden dive to 45, now it is very near age 40.
If your are in electrical engineering for any other reason than You Love It! You are in the wrong career.
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Instruction
Teaching Styles
Theoretical
The course work is smooth and symmetrical, and fits snugly as in a puzzle. All the parts fit; no exceptions, no loose ends.

Real World
This approach addresses the exceptions to the rules. It is a case of WYSIWYG.

Pragmatism and empirical experimentation are apropos to the end product: the educated Engineer.

Lecturing:

Lecturing is broadcasting. You would never think of sending data without continually verifying whether or not the data was received, and received correctly. And, if there had been an error, you "say it again."

Lecturing ranges from aloof arrogance, to conversational exchanges where few misunderstandings occur, and much information is transferred.

Writing on the board; little or no conversational exchange

Intimate: conversational exchange

Personal: relating to the individual

When one person asks a question of the lecturer, it is probably certain that several in the audience profited from the answer. So it was not an interruption, but it was a "soft error" alert and a resend--to continue with the metaphor.

Last but not least, lecturing is an ego trip for many. I am up here pontificating to the unwashed masses--"I never got this kind of respect when I was a kid, but look at me know." And, sadly, when your audience doesn't seem to grasp the golden concepts you are imparting: "it's their fault, dumb students! It would never occur to the lecturer that maybe, just maybe, he should find a different line of work.
Instructor Qualifications:
It is unimaginable to think of an apprentice studying under one who has never "done it," one who has never been a practicing engineer; or one who has never designed a "real" circuit in anger--teaching circuit design.
 

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Learning
Givens:

People Do Not Read!!

Learning Effectiveness:

Listening to lectures and reading are the least efficient model for learning by undergraduates;

Doing is the most efficient; followed by watching others doing. ref. "Felder's Pyramid." [1]

You Learn by Teaching:
Students should:

Create Tutorials on subjects under study;
Write or rewrite the course Syllabus;

Learning in the Round

TV as core subject
 

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Learning by Doing
"Technicianing"

Fabrication Facilities & Model Shop Student used and operated.
There is a great need for the student to gain "hands-on" experience with the very technology he is studying, and will soon to be required to handle in earnest. This is another Learn by Doing opportunity

Parts & Materials Store: The Parts & Materials Store, at first appears to be little more than a minor convenience--of questionable importance. The reality of it is: It is of eminent importance in the training of an engineer. It is a mundane fact of life: "The greatest single problem you will encounter in completing your project--bar none, will be getting the right part(s), On Time, when you need them!

"This single fact of life is never believed when first heard,
and
never forgotten once it happens to you!" __ gaw, 1996
The parts shop is not to protect the student from the Vendor, the Distributor, or the Horse they rode in on, but is to codify the tenuous and adversarial relationship one will have with them now, and in the future.

"Never Trust the Vendor, the Distributor, or the Horse they rode in on!"__ gaw, 1996
 

"Immersion!" That's a great word to describe what the student's condition should be. They should eat, drink, sleep, live: Engineering.  If this immersion into Engineering is too overpowering for a particular student, they will find a better (for them and everyone) area of study to pursue.

The concept of being a "Good Engineer" as opposed to person with an engineering degree, is an idea that seems to have been lost. That should be an obvious concept to everyone involved in their education--including above all, the student!
 

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  • Esprit de Corps:

  • Esprit or parochial pride in ones group, has always been a powerful force for cohesion and motivation among the age group in question.
     
  • Peer Pressure:

  • Peer influence, like esprit, can be a powerful motivator toward good performance.
     
  • Mentoring

  • Close Personal Mentoring by faculty and/or advisors:
    Faculty should create a parental ambiance:
    Kick ass when needed;
    Show disappointment in student's poor performance;
    Show pride in student's accomplishments, etc.
     
  • Competition:

  • Intramural competition, e. g., Contests of design, wit, etc. 
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    Resources
    Labs Equipment:
    This does not have to all be expensive, latest technology type equipment. For the price of one expensive logic analyzer (that is seldom used by undergraduates), there could be more than a dozen pieces of, assorted used or surplus, test equipment. Most debugging of hardware designs don't require >100 MHz oscilloscopes. Those more sophisticated pieces of equipment would be available, but at a lesser number.

    Design Automation Facilities: The world of Electronic Design Automation (EDA) is here! EDA is the single most powerful and Democratizing Tool to ever show up in the Engineers personal Tool Box!

    EDA, VHDL (Virtual Hardware Design Language) can empower any Engineer--on his own--to compete with, and beat, any world class Giant. 

    "The era of the lone Inventor working in his Garage is Alive and Well, once again!" __ gaw, 1996
     

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    Tools:
  • Teaching/Learning Tools:

  • Multimedia: Hypertext!! Sound, Text, Images, Animation
    Personal Resources Network:
    Every student should be connected, via their personal computer, to a computer network, and actively using this resource as a tool for their education. With the advent of inexpensive CD ROMs and the myriad of mainframe data bases connected via WANS, LANS and dial-up connections, there is no excuse for them not to be connected to these resources. It should be second nature to utilize a resource that is several orders of magnitude more effective than books and the, comparatively, limited resources of the libraries. 

    Personal Computer Data Base Access:
     

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    The Vendor
    Vendor Support
    In industry and in any institution where design and development go on: the single biggest problem that the designer has to face, is getting the parts and material they need to do the design on time. It sounds to anyone who has not experienced this sort of thing, as a problem of a particular individual. But, it is a universal problem, with no promise of a solution in sight.

    A problem that has plagued students and staff forever, is the problem of vendor support--or the lack of it--to the university. The vendor, on one front, appears to help the university (by their occasional donations), but when a student identifies themselves to most--all--vendors, there is a cold shoulder thrust in their direction. If these folks did just a little calculating, they would come to the conclusion that today's student, is tomorrow's customer.

    Distributor Support
    What is discussed above about the vendor, is true about the distributor as well, but in "Spades!" There needs to be a university-wide deal struck with the vendors and the distributors, such that the university in effect, underwrites the student's position in dealing with the distributor and/or the vendor.

    And, most important, the purchasing department should not be involved: they have a grievous history of causing crippling delays for the sake of the lowest price. The money saved--if any--compared to the cost of the delay, is so disproportionate to the importance of the project and the education of the student, that it borders on malfeasance. After all, the semester is only 12 weeks.
     

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    L i b r a r i e s
    Text Books
    A current technical library--separate from the local library--should be available to the student. An emphasis should be put on availability of germane books and periodicals, to that end, a popular book is replicated sufficient to eliminate waiting lists. Desks are not as necessary as books: anything will replace a desk--a $7 folding chair. Nothing will substitute a needed book! 

    Test EquipmentEvery student should have access to test equipment, and should be able to take it home. It has been proven by industry that loaning such resources insures that some time will be spent by the employee (student) doing technical work instead of non technical endeavors. The bottom line is that the more time an individual spends in this pursuit there is bound to be a beneficial by-product: a more technically competent employee (student).

    Prototyping Tools & PartsThe ability to prototype a design with sufficient speed and reliability would go a long way in helping the student understand the worthiness of their designs.

    Technical Advisors & Consultants, "In-Residence." Until the University requires its instructors to have relevant industrial experience, there is a need for individuals of such experience and background to be a resource to the engineering student.


    Relevant Books
    A current technical library should be available to the student. An emphasis should be put on availability of germane books and periodicals, to that end, a popular book is replicated to a sufficient quantity to eliminate waiting lists.

    Periodicals
    Since periodicals are much more up to date than books, especially in engineering: subscriptions to the relevant periodicals, scientific and industry oriented, should be ongoing and current with adequate back issue collections. These subscriptions should be redundant sufficient to allow any student to borrow (check out) an issue without depleting the availability of any issue.

    Data Books: Vendor Data Bases
    Any engineer in the workplace spends an inordinate amount of time using and relying on vendor data books (Ti, National, AT&T, Intel, Analog Devices, etc.). Any design project requires these data, and other support from the vendor. This information is available as books, but is also beginning to come on-line and on CD-ROMS. This information is crucial to the designer.
     

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    Sheep Skin
    What Does My Sheep Skin Say I Am?
    Finals:
    The student is subject to examination by a panel from industry, educators from other institutions, graduate students, etc.,

    judge the finishing student.

    The student, based of the evaluation, receives a degree reflecting his accomplishments, both while at the school and in life.

    Examples: Bozo 3rd class to Senior Design Engineer.

    T h e  G a m e
    How do students make it through the system?
     
    The Game:

    Every student understands the game and how it's played: "Gee, do I try to get the highest GPA by remembering every thing verbatim and regurgitate it on the test--learning little in the process. Or should I try to learn something while I'm here and run the risk poor GPA--and maybe NO job? duh... 

    As with any explanation, there is rarely any single reason or approach. The reasons and methods can change over time with, almost, chaotic progression. The honest "straight arrow" student can begin with the best of intentions, and as a desperate move (for him, but not necessarily for some others) he cheats--"just this once, to get me through." He may regain his balance and return to the straight and narrow and only occasionally have relapses, until he makes it through. Is he a bad person? He is only if he thinks he's not. Only if he thinks he has done a bad thing, does cheating extract a cost--that and he ends up dumb as a rock! 

    Memories

    C h e a t i n g

    DON'T, You cheat only one person...

    .
    Changes
    Courses should be shortened and condensed, and their frequency of availability increased.

    If a subject is necessary, break it up into smaller modules or sections based on subject subsets.

    Many courses should deleted or shortened (subdivided).
     

  • Some courses added

  • Ergonomics;

    Public Speaking (Dale Carnage model).
     

  • Self paced Multimedia Tutorials:

  • Tutorials on every subject taught, and more. Students can use these tutorials or short courses for information, or they can be taken and tested for credit, or audited.
    Misc.
    Ethical Concept" or ideal to strive for; by the student, and by the faculty who's endeavors, as well as their status as "mentor" help form the end product.

    Curiosity: 
    1) Readiness to be concerned with or moved by something syn: Interest, Concern, Regard rel: Enthusiasm Excitement Passion Attention Care Concernment Absorption Engrossment

    2) Something that arouses interest especially because of uncommon or exotic characteristics Syn: Oddity

    rel: Exception, Nonesuch. Rarity, Marvel, Prodigy, Wonder, Anomaly, Freak, Monstrosity
     
     

    Play --> enthusiasm, Fun --> Design --> Curiosity --> Need to Know --> theory -->

    Curiosity --> Motivation --> Enthusiasm --> Effort --> leads to Productive Results --> while aiming for the Goal of Personal Satisfaction.


  • Enrichment

  • Faculty:
    Job swapping, periodic exchange between Industry and academe.

    Students
    Every student should Coop!!
    Local Technical Journals:
    Peer reviewed publications, written by and edited by students.
     

  • Competition:

  • Intramural competition, e. g., Contests of design, wit, etc.
    .

    Short Courses:

    Required Short Courses:

    Technician Skills;

    Public Speaking & Technical Presentations;

    Economics,

    Business & Management;

    Ergonomics;

    Mathematics;

    English, writing, grammar, etc.;


    Television
    Television as a core subject (object) would encompass a vast amount of technologies, from vacuum tubes to Fiber Optic Communications, etc.
    .
    Things to Avoid:
    Lectures and Labs should not be separate: should be "Hands-on-Lecture."

    Desired Attributes:

    Lateral Learning;
     

    Appendixes
    APPENDIX A
    The Learning Environment

    In the work-a-day-world, when a vendor wants to sell you, your company or institution their product or service, they hold a "seminar" to educate you about their product. These people have developed this process to an art form. They operate on several levels: their efforts are directed toward making you feel welcome; making you feel that you are important to them; they usually provide seating that is both comfortable and intimate to the presenter's presentation. The next level is to eliminate distractions in the form of controlling unnecessary noise and the lighting is controlled to help focus the attendees' attention on the presentation, and an often overlooked distraction, temperature (68 degrees for male only audience, 72 degrees if mixed). The third level--and very possibly the most important--is attention to "human-needs:" frequent changes of pace in the presentation (catering to attendees' finite attention span) and periodic breaks for "refreshment." And as part of this refreshment, aside from the call of nature, there are some very important elements aimed at keeping the attendees alert during the presentation: coffee tops the list with its attendant caffeine; and just as important--especially for those who skipped breakfast--are pastries with their blood sugar content (sugars and carbohydrates for fast, and more moderate sugar release). Physiologists have long understood the impact of blood sugar on mood and alertness. Many people, young and old alike, are marginally hypoglycemic several times a day and are at diminished ability in memory, cognitive thinking, decision making, and sometimes there is even mild depression (most are unaware of their condition). Sugars and carbohydrates in the form of pastries, soft drinks, etc. are antidotes to these episodes. Caffeine is as important to some people for alertness, especially if they are frequent coffee drinkers--they (we) need the "fix."

    So what has this to do with the class room? Not a good question.

    Every university has departments brimming with bright talented experts on all the fields necessary to design the classroom environment that is optimum for learning. The student should be thought of as one important element of many other elements in an optimally controlled closed loop. These elements need to be identified and understood as to their affect. Further, they need to be quantified as to their weight in the optimal system. And, because the system is not static, but very dynamic, and there is a class of those elements that will vary in weight as they interact with other elements, e.g., coffee and pastries have less importance in the class just after lunch than the first class of the day or the 3 P.M. class. Then there will be the intangible elements that must be judged as to their possible value verses costs.

    It is a foolish waste of inordinately valuable resources--the human resource--to not bring the classroom into the age of enlightenment. We have gained vast knowledge in every field of human endeavor since the last "class room" specification was carved into stone.

    The way classroom teaching is done presently, is similar to trying, and failing, to move an enormous rock by brute strength. If one uses a lever, requiring much less force, the rock will move. Bringing to bear the lever of enlightenment to learning, one can have a great multiplier for minimum effort and costs.

    KISS It doesn't require great outlays of money, or massively expensive and complicated technology. It requires using a lever on the lever: if the design is good the product will sell and shear economy of scale will dominate.
     

    APPENDIX B


    Electro-Optics is the Wave of the Present!

    They're Here...

    Electrical/Electronics Engineering, as we know it today, is about to be eclipsed, and most EEs don't have a clue.

    There is a revolution in optical technology that is so awesome that it almost defies description. Data rates in fiber communications, to the desktop, have jumped from ~ 100 Mb/s to 1,500 Mb/s; data rates on long-haul fiber has jumped from ~ 1.5 Gb/s to over 25 Gb/s. Electronic repeaters for fiber optic data links, which took a room of "stuff" and had to be spaced every 20 km, have been replaced by optical amplifiers that are no larger than a lunch box (with bandwidths of > 40 THz).

    Optical computing holds unimaginable potential: 1024 bit data buses transferring data at the speed of light, not .55 the speed of light (.55 x C), across the same space used by other data paths on the same chip--with no contention.

    Another approach to optical computing uses photon level processing (real-time, speed of light): optical convolution, correlation, FFTs, etc., all manner of time and computation consuming processes--done at the speed of light.

    With advances in so many related technological fronts coming to a level of maturity, and the convergence there of: a quantum jump is inevitable.

    For the Want of a Nail

    For the price of a ~ 1mW HeNe Laser ($100.00) and some assorted surplus optics ($20.00): I can perform various image filtering and/or transformations of an entire photograph, in the time it takes light to travel less than a meter, < 3 nsec. Though a Cray supercomputer would do a much better job, it might take several minutes of computing. 
     

    ..
    Curriculum

    Givens:

    People Do Not Read!!

    Learning Effectiveness:

    Listening to lectures and reading are the least efficient model for learning by undergraduates--or anyone.

    Doing is the most efficient; followed by watching others doing. ref. "Felder's Pyramid." [1]

    You Learn by Teaching:
    Students should:

    Create Tutorials on subjects under study;

    Write or rewrite the course Syllabus;

    Learning in the Round;

    TV as core subject...
     


    Secondary Education 
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