Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

39th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. FIE ’09.


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

First page number:


Last page number:



Hands-on learning has been utilized in engineering curriculums for several years in order to illustrate theory in a physical way. This paper presents the use of two hands-on learning activities in a first semester, freshman year engineering course designed to introduce basic concepts from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer engineering. In previous offerings of the course, several disjoint activities have been provided in order to introduce the fundamentals of these disciplines. This paper presents how several weeks worth of material are synthesized in a hands-on activity in order to allow deeper levels of student understanding and to showcase how engineering knowledge from a variety of disciplines can be synthesized in a meaningful way. Through these exercises students are able to understand how computer programs can be used to collect data from sensors, determine the appropriate response to this sensor data, and control circuits that are used to drive mechanical systems based on the sensor data. Through this activity, students are able to escalate through several levels of Bloom's taxonomy by drawing connections between theory and practice from a variety of fields.


Active learning; Bloom’s taxonomy; Curriculum planning; Education — Curricula; Engineering – Study and teaching; Experiential learning; First-year initiatives; Hands-on learning; Mechatronics

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