Enhancing the Undergraduate Research Experience in a Senior Design Context Page: 2
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Enhancing the Undergraduate Research Experience in a Senior Design
The paper presents an instructional framework developed by the authors that engages
senior students in a 5-credit Research and Development course incorporating project
development, implementation, entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, teamwork, and
communication. The paper discusses the development and accomplishments of the course
over the past four years in the context of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) - an
initiative at the University of Houston intended to encourage the development and
enhancement of undergraduate research skills. The philosophy behind the course is to
provide training and real world, small-scale project experience through the completion of
a full-project lifecycle from conceptualization to prototype. Brief discussion of those
projects that resulted in provisional patents, refereed journal publications, and conference
presentations will be given. Some of the features of the course, such as University and
industry guest speaker series and final project evaluation by the department's Industrial
Advisory Board, leading professionals, faculty, technical staff and peers will be
examined. The paper concludes by outlining a set of short term and long term goals for
the future direction of the course.
Engineering and engineering technology disciplines consider senior project courses an
important and even critical curricular component. In the past, many publications centered
on general reporting regarding capstone course development, implementation and
improvement', 2 and adding an industry collaboration component to the capstone courses3'
4. After the ABET 2K guidelines5 were released, many established capstone courses
added a systematic assessment component6' 7' 8. Recently, interest in the entrepreneurial
and commercial dimensions of this work and inclusion of these concepts in capstone
courses is on the rise9' 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
The Senior Project course at the Computer Engineering Technology (CET) program,
University of Houston is relatively young. As part of an effort to streamline the CET
program in Engineering Technology (ET), the department decided to change the scope
and redefine the course such that it was possible to measure student mastery of
knowledge and skills in the CET program.
Prior to the changes, the course had consisted of three hours of lecture and a one hour
laboratory. In this format, the course covered topics such as Op-Amps, ADC/DAC,
interfacing, signal conditioning, microprocessor I/O, bus structure, and some machine
language. The course was more hardware oriented with a very limited software
component and did not have any laboratory assistant support.
During the revision phase, the authors recognized that most of these topics were covered
earlier in the CET curriculum. The laboratory component consisted of several small
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Attarzadeh, Farrokh; Barbieri, Enrique & Ramos, Miguel. Enhancing the Undergraduate Research Experience in a Senior Design Context, paper, June 2010; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc115192/m1/2/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Engineering.