SparkFun Electronics Pilots new Engineering Curricula at the University of Colorado Boulder, Lafayette High School

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Free Introduction 2 Design course provides comprehensive, in-depth engineering design experience at collegiate and high school levels.

SparkFun Electronics, a provider of parts, knowledge and passion for electronics creation, is proud to reveal its Department of Education's new "Introduction 2 Design" courses for the collegiate and high school levels. The curricula were co-authored with Jacob Segil, a faculty member at the University of Colorado at Boulder's College of Engineering.

The semester-long courses, which can be downloaded for free (https://app.schoology.com/course/314767183/materials and https://app.schoology.com/course/314765863/materials), evolved from a longstanding collaboration between SparkFun and the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory (ITLL) at CU Boulder. The ITLL has shown improved retention rates in the College of Engineering for students who take a particular class called "First Year Projects" (GEEN 1400) over a 20-year dataset. Motivated by these findings, SparkFun and Segil hoped to provide a similar hands-on education experience to engineering students who may not have a similar facility.

Both the collegiate and high school versions of the curriculum underwent a pilot run during the spring 2015 semester. The collegiate course was piloted at CU Boulder by Professor Michael Walker in a course including engineering students as well as students from non-engineering majors. Every student showed tremendous growth in both technical skills (soldering, programming, manufacturing, etc.) and design-based thinking. The high school course was piloted at Centarus High School in Lafayette, CO, in several classrooms. All students described an increased knowledge about engineering and appreciated the problem-solving experience.

For more data on the success of the pilot, see Segil's report for the American Society for Engineering Education 2015 conference (attached). For more information on the Department of Education’s curriculum work, or to find out how you can use SparkFun’s coursework in your school, contact education(at)sparkfun(dot)com.

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Chelsea Moll

Lindsay Diamond

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