The IEC Exchange

 

April 2022
 

Featured Article

Kenneth A. Connor

Professor Emeritus, Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Member, Board of Directors, Inclusive Engineering Consortium

At the recent ECEDHA meeting in New Orleans, I was one of the organizers of a session on the Future of ECE Education. At this session, and at a previous online session that was part of the ECEDHA Summit in February, we invited colleagues from ECEDHA and IEC member programs to get on their soapbox and challenge us to think outside the box on this incredibly important topic. Our collective experiences with teaching and learning during Covid have pretty much knocked the usual sacred cows off of their aging pedestals, so it is time to really push ourselves to realize some benefits of having classes and other student interactions occur online instead of face-to-face. 

 

I enthusiastically encourage everyone to see the kind of ideas that were shared by looking at the various presentations that speakers recorded both before and after the New Orleans meeting. I have provided links below to all of the materials we have collected. Unfortunately, we do not have recordings of the live session, but most of what was presented is addressed somewhere in the linked materials or my comments.

 

In addition, check out the latest version of ECEDHA’s Project RECET website (https://recet.ecedha.org) which is more user friendly and provides an easy mechanism for user feedback. The project needs your engagement and I can think of no better group to get involved than the veterans of the ECP Project. Remote ECE Teaching is built on exactly the same principles and tools we used for ECP.

 

There are at least four takeaways from this session that I think we can all benefit from. The first is flexibility - our curricula need to be less rigid, even if increased flexibility has a significant cost in resources. Florian Solzbacher from Utah talked about how their programs have reduced the number of absolutely required courses to one, so he is a good person to contact if you want to know more. This is an area where the collective approach enabled by IEC can be so valuable. The second is that there are very large practical differences between small and large departments. What works in a big department may not be at all useful in a small department and vice versa. Kathleen Meehan of Cal State Chico advocated for small departments like hers, which is especially important because small departments are not well represented at annual ECEDHA meetings. They do attend regional meetings in larger numbers and usually do not have the travel budget required to go to the big annual meeting. IEC programs are generally small, so it was very helpful to have Kathleen remind everyone that one size fits all does not work. A third, and critical, takeaway is the passion people showed for change. Nearly everyone in attendance seemed to appreciate that now is the time to act to address curricular areas that need improvement and lessons learned from Covid. The final takeaway also connects well with the mission of IEC. The panelists and attendees all expressed enthusiasm for hearing from anyone interested in their ideas. Thus, when you look at the presentations below or read my comments here, please connect with anyone whose ideas you think might be useful at your institution. People want to collaborate, even if it is just to have a small number of conversations. 

 

Recorded Ideas from Panelists 

Alan Cheville and Stu Thompson from Bucknell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xKqg2kfYWE 

Ken Connor from IEC & RPI: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9fzHQ7lMlY 

Cindy Furse from Utah: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFhKIi0-CFk

Tony Maciejewski from Colorado State:

https://www.ecedha.org/Portals/47/CSU_RED_overview_narrated.pptx

 

 

 

 


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