Connecting the Currents Beyond the Classroom
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) chapter at TCU gives students interested in electrical engineering the opportunity to engage with each other outside of the classroom. Last year, IEEE President Mike Tran started a community outreach program teaching electrical engineering to Paschal High School students. The program was a great success for both the TCU volunteers and the Paschal students. This year, President Bailey Campbell and Vice President of Finance David Rankin serve as the team leaders for the IEEE community outreach program.
The outreach program originally was based on introductory circuit-related classes at TCU that use the Arduino board. TCU students brought those same Arduino boards to teach the Paschal students their own version of an “Introduction to Engineering” course. Teaching real theory and math that students will see in their first engineering courses to these high school students is a beneficial way to open their eyes to the possibilities of choosing engineering as a major in college and the introduction gives the high schoolers the advantage of familiarity with the basics.
This year Campbell and Rankin followed in Tran’s footsteps and brought the outreach program back to Paschal with some new ideas. On October 25, fifteen student volunteers “took over” the Paschal engineering class for the day and taught students about the basics of electrical engineering and circuitry. The TCU students taught hands-on activities using Arduino boards with a pre-written code by Rankin. Campbell said that the outreach program “allows TCU engineering students to mentor high school engineering students and show them how fun electrical engineering can be.”
The purpose of the outreach class was to give the high school students a basic understanding of voltage and current as they built their very own circuit board to light up an LED bulb through the Arduino board. “The students who volunteered from TCU and the students at Paschal both had a great time,” said Rankin, “the material is very introductory, so even if you weren’t planning on becoming an engineering major you could definitely pick up on it quickly if you were interested.”
Although the outreach program is meant to benefit the students at Paschal, the TCU volunteers gain a lot from the experience, too. “Helping write an introductory class for juniors and seniors in high school has been a really fascinating experience, and I’ve learned a lot about teaching and understanding your audience,” said Rankin. Learning from a textbook is one thing, but taking the material outside and helping others apply that knowledge is something that cannot be learned in a classroom. For Campbell, she has always been interested in leadership roles and working with IEEE and the community outreach program has helped her grow in her studies and in the TCU community: “I am and have always been a huge advocate for electrical engineering, and IEEE has introduced me to so many other people in my major. We all understand the same stress that we go through and help each other with questions.”
Consider the second year of the IEEE community outreach program a success because Campbell and Rankin have plans for a second teaching date during the spring semester with some modifications to enhance the learning process. The program hopes to expand and is always looking for volunteers, and volunteers do not have to be majoring in electrical engineering.