Young Asian woman tinkering with electronics in front of a computer

IEEE Student Chapter at UC Davis Organizes Crowdfund Campaign for Portable Learning Devices for Low-Income Students

Quick Summary

  • Funds raised will go towards equipment such as handheld data acquisition systems that can be used inside and outside the classroom

Crowdfund for Hands-on Learning Equipment for ECE students

UC Davis’ student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is organizing a crowdfunding campaign through UC Davis to supply electronic equipment to low-income undergraduate ECE students. 

The crowdfunding campaign will accept donations throughout the month of February and has a goal of $15,000-$25,000. The donations will fund equipment that students can use throughout their studies at UC Davis, both inside and outside the classroom.  

Crowdfunding is Key during Pandemic

With classes being conducted virtually at times, the convenience of small equipment allows students to take full advantage of labs at home. However, the pandemic has worsened many people’s financial struggles, making it harder for some students to buy necessary equipment. So, this crowdfund meets a critical and timely need. 

Portable Devices for Student Projects

One of the devices identified for funding is a portable, handheld data acquisition system about the size of a graphing calculator. The system comes with a set of valuable features, including an oscilloscope, signal generators and power supply and is used to characterize electronic circuits and verify circuit designs. The units connect to a Windows/Linux program that lets users control the operation, display and analyze the results. For example, specific signal inputs can be generated, analog and digital outputs can be set, and the electronic response captured. In addition, the electronic display program allows student researchers to observe how electronic signals behave around a circuit.   

“How electronic components work with analog and digital systems is a big topic we address in class,” said Anelise Cho, a student leader in UC Davis’ IEEE chapter.   

“Usually, an oscilloscope is a big bulky thing, and now students can see on a computer screen how the waves of voltage are changing over time, not only in the lab but also wherever they are,” says Nijo Tan, also a student leader in the IEEE chapter.  

The IEEE student chapter would also love to purchase other most commonly used components in electronics experiments, such as a component kit including breadboards, integrated circuits, resistors, etc. Together with the portable data acquisition system, students will work on many different types of electronics projects.  

In the past, students could only do electronics experiments in an instructional lab on campus with a limited amount of time. Students now own a mini lab at home with these portable devices and can work out their experiments outside the classroom. More importantly, using these tools, students can work on the course projects and explore many others in their extracurricular activities.  

Providing Necessary Tools for Hands-on Learning

The ECE department has many priorities for the funding it receives from the state, including high-end equipment for the labs of professional researchers. So crowdfunding will help ensure that undergraduate ECE students have the tools they need for hands-on learning.  

Throughout the four-year curriculum in ECE, students can gain hands-on learning experience through many projects. Building a robot that can hear and track the music source in a room, an audio spectrum analyzer that blinks in response to changes in the frequency and volume of sounds played for it, and a self-driving car that can follow lines on the ground are just a few examples.  

“Having the chance to do hands-on work is immeasurably important when you are developing an engineering career. Recruiters in tech will ask about your projects, not just your courses. They ask for specific examples of projects you built and how you handled teamwork, conflict, and the different personalities on your teams,” says Cho.   

Both Cho and Tan say that UC Davis undergraduates have a good reputation with industry for having hands-on knowledge. In addition, they point out that UC Davis continually updates and improves its engineering courses to provide the most up-to-date curriculum to the students.   

The student organizers are excited to assist students in gaining hands-on experience by launching the crowdfunding campaign. Furthermore, they encourage the broader UC Davis and electrical and computer engineering communities to invest in the education of the next generation of engineers. In addition to donating, individuals can help spread the word by sharing the campaign with their networks.

Learn more about the crowdfund campaign

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