Using a design course to augment program curriculum and foster development of professional skills

Document Type

Conference Presentation


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Conference Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

Date of Presentation



This paper describes the structure of a recently reorganized senior design project course sequence in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of the Pacific. The paper focuses on the first course in a two course senior project sequence, a course that was recently reorganized with a view to improve student design and professional skills. Previously, students did not do much design in the first project course; the emphasis was on project selection and preparation of a design proposal. Having had no prior comprehensive design experience, students were observed to struggle in the course of project implementation in the second senior project course. The re-organization sought to remedy this problem by introducing design projects in the first course that would ensure that students had a comprehensive design experience prior to their second project course. The paper also outlines how the course is structured to help develop student professional skills such as oral and written communication, project management, leadership, and ability to function on a multidisciplinary team. The paper also describes how a power electronics project was used recently in the first senior project course to help augment the program curriculum. The department has not offered many power-related electives in recent history, but is seeking to provide additional offerings in response to local and regional needs. A student survey shows that the power electronics project has served to stimulate student interest in this subject, prior to the planned offering of a power electronics elective next year. Student feedback also shows that the project course has been effective in developing student design and professional skills. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2010.

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