Project-Based Learning Centre for Electrical Engineering

Keywords

Project-based Learning, Electrical Engineering, Information Technology, Embedded Systems, Flagship Projects, Interdisciplinary Projects, Industrial Projects. 

Introduction

This project focuses on creating a “Center for Project-Based Learning” (PBL) for electrical engineering that aims at leveraging the fullest extent of the vertical coverage and diversity of at the department of information technology and electrical engineering (D-ITET). D-ITET is uniquely characterized by its diversity of research coupled with a full vertical span of theoretical and design expertise and experimental facilities, from materials to full-systems. The. The aim is to complement and enhance project-based learning activities with a centralized structure at the departmental level. With this, it will be possible to offer larger and interdisciplinary projects for students on all levels of their study, as well as for highly talented high-school pupils in their final years. The centre will reflect the wide and interdisciplinary nature of the D-ITET research groups (from the quantum scale (“electrons”) to full networks).

We envision the Center as a very dynamic environment, where the projects and even types of projects pursued change constantly from year to year. In many other existing project-based learning activities, the topics are either long-standing year over year and/or of no direct use to society and rather “playful.” While this is not negative per se, student motivation and societal recognition and appreciation will be even more significant with the envisioned concept of individual, non-repetitive topics of relevance and application. In addition to projects proposed by industrial and academic partners, also open calls for student-initiated projects will be offered.

Effectively, the initiative builds additional capacity in project-based education and with respect to critical thinking at ETH. The interdisciplinary nature of the student projects enables the involvement of all groups of D-ITET and collaborating departments within ETH. The primary motivation for this newly created Center is the benefit for students working on projects offered around this Center.

The centre is open to and collaborate with scientists that plan to carry out longitudinal studies on the effectiveness of new engineering education interventions, potentially following graduates into the workforce as well. Complement and enhance project-based learning activities with a centralized structure at the departmental level. The project is also synergically collaborating with other FLI projects, such as Neural Bases of Learning and Mixed Reality for Enhanced Lab Courses.

Figure 1. Prototype for the first prototype of the Smart Patch designed by student in one of the flagship projects.

Goals

We envision the PBL Center as a very dynamic environment, where the projects and even types of projects pursued change constantly from year to year. In many other existing project-based learning activities, the topics are either long-standing year over year and/or of no direct use to society and rather “playful.” While this is not negative per se, student motivation and societal recognition and appreciation will be even more significant with the envisioned concept of individual, non-repetitive topics of relevance and application. In addition to projects proposed by industrial and academic partners, also open calls for student-initiated projects will be offered.

State of the project

The centre started its actives in January 2020 headed by Dr. Michele Magno and is currently comprised by 5 post-doc,  PhD and other staff. Since January 2020 over 100 student projects for bachelor’s to master’s students have been proposed and completed. Moreover, the center has been teaching more than 10 Projects & Seminars courses to teach, improve and promote engineering practical activities. The center is also offering students competitions in collaboration with world-leading industrial companies. Finally, a flagship project called “Smart Patch” is currently active. The Smart Patch project will design autonomous, low-power and mesh-enabled multi-sensor wearable smart patches. They will be based on the always-on smart sensing paradigm to continuously acquire processes and stream physiological data in real-time. They can be trained to autonomously detect illness symptoms or other physical conditions, such as stress.

 

Prof. Dr. Christian Franck

Prof. Dr. Luca Benini

Prof. Dr. Florian Dörfler

Prof. Dr. Manu Kapur

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Kozerke

Dr. Michele Magno