Making the connection

February 28, 2013

ECE major Zach Degeorge (second from left) tutored ECE 270 this fallThe College of Engineering and Computer Science's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is teaming with students from Eta Kappa Nu (HKN)—the electrical engineering honors society—to provide extra support to students taking ECE classes.

For the past three years, ECE has worked with HKN to provide free tutoring services to students enrolled in three courses: ECE 210 (Circuits), ECE 270 (Computer Methods in Electrical and Computer Engineering), and ECE 273 (Digital Systems). The department is using funds gener- ously donated by the Foren Family Foundation and Jack and Janice Dickert to finance training and payment for the tutors. David Foren and Jack Dickert are CECS alumni. The tutoring sessions are available in addition to those offered through UM-Dearborn’s Tutoring Center.

“The HKN students provide group tutoring as well as one-on-one sessions,” says Yi Lu Murphey, chair and professor of ECE. “We provide training and guidelines to the tutors and ask them to be in contact with the course instructors so they can reinforce the information being taught. Together, we make a tremendous effort to ensure that ECE students have all the support they need to learn advanced technologies.”

Zach DeGeorge, a senior in electrical engineering and computer engineering, tutored ECE 270 this fall. DeGeorge met regularly with John Miller, associate professor of ECE, to review class assignments and identify students who needed support.

“I worked with students in small groups after each class and individually as my schedule permitted,” DeGeorge says. “I tried to explain programming in a different way and help them connect the dots. Sometimes hearing things from a different perspective helps. And because I’m a peer, it’s easy for me to relate to the students.”

DeGeorge says his experience as a programmer and member of the Intelligent Systems Club gives him the knowledge base needed to help students with their coursework.

“I don’t just review what we’re doing, but why we’re doing it,” DeGeorge says. “I know that the students who attend tutoring consistently did better on their assignments. A lot of students thank me, and it feels good to help other people. I aspire to be a professor one day, and to get some teaching experience under my belt now is very satisfying.”

Sophomore electrical engineering and computer science major Joe Zubor attended DeGeorge’s tutoring sessions regularly and said his grades improved as a result.

“The extra help and insight that Zach provided was very helpful,” Zubor says. “The tutoring was very positive and reinforced what we learned in class. ECE students should definitely take advantage of it.”

Apart from the tutoring, ECE faculty members offer a series of free educational seminars and workshops each semester to students and the community. Topics include Matlab, Matlab Simulink, PSpice, PIC programming, Embedded C, C++ programming, and soldering practice.
“The idea behind the workshops came from feedback we received from co-op employers,” Murphey says. “They identified certain areas where they felt students could use additional training. Since we can only cover so much in our curriculum, the faculty decided to make these workshops avail- able so students receive broad as well as in-depth education.”

Information about the tutoring sessions and workshops is posted throughout the UM-Dearborn campus and emailed to all ECE students as well as the IEEE student organization.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 Dearborn Engineer.

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