Tenaya Hurst visited annual ECEDHA Conference and Expo. She shared her thoughts about it below.
Sunny Florida was selected to attract the electrical engineers of universities from all over the U.S. and beyond.  ECEDHA is an organization to unite the department heads or chairs from E.E. programs in various schools. The esteemed attendees use this time to collaborate and confer to make advances in education and to enrich the experience of the students they graduate. 

As Education Accounts Manager for Arduino, I was proud to attend and represent our impressive prototyping tools.  What it must take for an 18 year old to apply to a university and declare an E.E. major, that impresses me.  Freshmen may have had little or no hands-on experience, but many experiences growing up, lead them to be interested in electricity.  At the university level, programs want to hold onto the high standards for their graduates.  They do believe hands-on experience is important, but not at the sacrifice of time for math, theory, and physics.  Though a 4-year degree seems like a long time, there are only so many hours to affect a student.  I can understand that an E.E. program doesn’t want to see an Arduino Uno in a senior’s project, but each time I attend ECEDHA, I help to express how I believe Arduino can help Universities:

Students are Overwhelmed

• high school is more and more difficult, a lot of stress, a lot of homework, etc.

• social media is an extra distraction, they started in high school, it’s still there at college!

• so many moving parts in college to satisfy different criteria for your degree

• freshmen need to get hooked and stay hooked on electronics in a real sense.

How can Arduino help Universities?

Freshmen Retention

• Get students hands-on to pair learning with theory and physics.

• Some have had little or no hands-on experience coming into college, this is what they want when they declare a major in electronics.

• Get them excited with rapid prototyping which will motivate them to learn the theory more.

• Give them access to equipment and tools, like Arduino, to show them the value of working in a lab like the university provides in the E.E. department.

Outreach to High School Students

• More and more universities are doing advertising for their school’s programs like electrical engineering, groups like IEEE host workshops and booths at STEM events.

• Having hands-on learning coupled with computer programming draws in students

• At a social science event, Arduino is a great way to show fun interactive projects.  Guests can experience the projects in a few minutes, but they are visual and memorable.

Awesome Hardware

• Our hardware comes in multiple form factors for prototyping and small volume production

• Great tools for IoT: WiFi, BLE, and *new* LoRa gateways and nodes.

• Ability to program in Arduino IDE or Linux on some boards like Arduino Yun and Arduino Tian

• For a university to have a variety of hardware within the Arduino line allows students to try different solutions and gain confidence with rapid prototyping.  Failure, repetition, practice.

• high school and university students are motivated and excited to design products for crowd-funding.  Our modules (smaller versions of the prototyping boards) are available at a low cost and low volume, you can add them to a daughter board or design your own. 

An engineer’s education will always change and morph as trends change and technology advances.  I don’t have real numbers, but what I’ve seen in my time within the maker community is that more students are graduating from universities, and creating start-up companies.  Others continue to graduate and work for larger companies, beginning a career straight away being a part of a much larger team.  All can be paths to success, engineers are still tasked with solving problems.  Some products solve “first world problems” while other exciting products are developed from altruistic and dedicated students who want to help solve problems around the world.  I say, let them dream, let them develop, let them be entrepreneurs.  That is where the theme of the ECEDHA event is going, giving engineering students tools to be business people and at minimum, educate them about crowd-funding!



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