This complete evidence-based practice paper details a seven-week module used to introduce first-semester engineering students to the fields of electrical and computer engineering. The module engages the students in a guided design process using a custom robotic platform, the Ebot, that students incrementally build and enhance each week. Initially, students build an Ebot that they can manually drive forward and backward. By the end of the module, students create an autonomous line following robot. Throughout the process, students are asked to reflect upon how they could improve upon the previous week’s design. As part of this process students are introduced to various electrical/electronic devices, such as a digital multimeter, a DC power supply, SPST and SPDT switches, a phototransistor, DC motors and a microcontroller. However, the primary goals of the module are to introduce students to aspects of electrical and computer engineering and engineering methodology related to design, and to establish a sense of affiliation and connection between the students, the faculty and the engineering school.
Enrollment in each module is capped at 18 students so that each student can receive significant individual attention and support from the faculty. Each faculty member actively fosters supportive relationships with and between the students and encourages self-confidence through the guided team-based activities. At the conclusion of the most recent offering, students were surveyed. The majority of students surveyed viewed the ECE module favorably: 89% agreed that they had learned a great deal in the ECE module; 78% agreed that the module provided them with an understanding of the electric and computer engineering fields; 91% agreed that the module was fun. The course addresses ABET student outcomes 2, 3, and 5. These outcomes focus on engineering design, communication, and teamwork, respectively.