Integrated course-lab-studio environment for circuits and electronics courses at Elizabethtown college
In this paper we describe and critically review the sequence of Circuits and Electronics courses at Elizabethtown College. Supported by two grants from Tyco Electronics Foundation over the last five years, a class studio environment hosts a Circuits course and an Electronics course. Both courses integrate traditional classes, formal labs and studio setting for lectures, demonstrations, experiments, simulation and design. While in many institutions similar courses in circuits and in electronics are split between theory and lab components, these two four-credit, six-hour courses are centerpieces of the engineering curriculum at Elizabethtown College. The integrated classroom environment allows for a close vicinity and interplay between theory, simulation, design and lab activity. In addition, the courses, as they unfold, often mimic a real professional life routine when students are exposed to multi-tasking, team interaction, priority choices, and multidisciplinary participation. The recent addition of advanced semiconductor parameter analyzing tools, courtesy of a second Tyco Electronics grant, open the door for a strong initiation and integration of undergraduate research activity connected to the content of the courses. We propose and analyze this model for circuit and electronics classes, based on examples, performances and assessments. Strengths and weaknesses of this approach are identified and analyzed.