Mobile Lab - Lockheed Martin Sponsored Project
Charles Kim


Link to Main Mobile Lab Page

To solve the nation's staggering problem of significant under-production of engineers, scientists, and technology graduates requires bold, initiative and persistent action. Lockheed Martin and Howard University have demonstrated an understanding that pipeline and other issues of engineering education are best attacked by corporate/academic partnerships. The Lockheed Martin - Howard University partnership leverages the resources of the two organizations in innovative initiates that seek to impact the status of the nation's engineering and technology work force and, closer to home, positively affect Lockheed Martin's own work force recruitment and hiring program.

Mobile Studio Class

Project Abstract
In March 2005, Howard University received a Hewlett Packard Technology for Teaching grant to encourage the transformation of learning and teaching. The collaborative efforts of Dr. Charles Kim and other faculty members in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department have implemented HP technology to create a mobile learning environment for several engineering courses. By eliminating the boundary between lecture and lab, students were able to grasp the theoretical concepts at a faster pace than in traditional lectures. Also, facility limitations were eliminated because of the enhanced flexibility of the mobile environment. As a result, we found improvements in grade performance and enthusiasm for the course.
Building on the success of our Phase I effort, we plan to incorporate the Tablet PC in ten upper-level engineering courses. Furthermore, we propose distributing Tablet PCs to all junior-level students in the department (~45) for the entire school year. The students will use the Tablet PCs to take notes, perform laboratory experiments and engage in online learning exercises. By providing unlimited access to the Tablet PCs for the entire school year, we expect improvements in grades in all of the proposed courses. The Lockheed Martin contribution would provide for twenty Tablet PC workstations for use in upper level courses.
Implementation (pedagogy): Most core electrical and computer engineering lectures are taught along with an accompanying laboratory course. The synergy learning process that verifies the theory through application is often neglected because the lecture and labs are given at different times. The traditional labs also hinder learning because of limitations in space, equipment and operating times.
Our initial objectives were met by establishing a mobile studio class setting in which conventional laboratory equipment was replaced by a Tablet PC that utilizes real-time data acquisition software. We found dramatic grade improvements with the course that used the Mobile Studio approach as compared to the traditional teaching environment. More coursework was covered during the school year as well. Furthermore, the students rated the mobile studio class as quite favorable in terms of increasing their ability to apply theory, knowledge of subject matter, and interaction with other students in the course.
Even though dramatic learning improvements were achieved using the Tablet PC, the project team members observed that more student-Tablet PC interaction could be achieved by increasing the number of available Tablet PCs. Furthermore, the student's use of the Tablet PCs was limited to classroom lectures because of security concerns. Motivated by these observations, we would like to expand the Mobile Studio project by providing each student with their own Tablet PCs for the entire school year.
Mobile studio pedagogy has two essential components: combination of theory and application and extension of classroom to "anywhere anytime." Traditionally the lecture and lab courses are taught separately. In particular the lab course was administered in a traditional laboratory facility. With the mobile studio approach, the lab can be taught in any room. Any classroom with tables and wireless access can be turned into a lab. Through the wireless network, students can access lecture materials, slides, and additional drawings using the Tablet PC.
Teaching and Learning Issues
This project will engage more students in classroom design projects and online experiments by increasing the number of workstations in the lecture and lab courses. The computer-based design projects conducted during lecture were previously ineffective learning tools because there were not enough workstations; large groups resulted in one or two people working and three people disrupting the class. By adding the Lockheed Martin-granted Tablet PCs, more students were able to participate in the computer-based assignments, resulting in fewer disruptions.
Along with increasing student participation in lectures, the Tablet PC project will increase student interaction in laboratory settings by using Mobile Laboratory software and protoboards connected to the Tablet PC through the USB port. The interactive graphical user interface (GUI) replaces costly equipment that can only be accessed in specific laboratory environments.
The enhanced networking functionality of the Tablet PC also encourages more interaction between the faculty and student during lectures and lab. By using Virtual Network Computing (VNC) tools, faculty can monitor students' progress performing in-class design projects through a wireless Ethernet connection. This allows faster deployment and collection of assignments via email and also facilitates quicker response to student problems.
Lecturers are excited by the Tablet PC technology and its writing table. A slide show now can become the template for dynamic teaching material with instant drawings and notations using PowerPoint as compared to traditional chalk board-based lectures. By expanding the mobile studio class setting to several courses, the following goals can be addressed:
•The Tablet PC improves teaching efficiency for distributing information to students through electronic interaction, thus increasing the teaching throughput
•The Mobile Studio Lab enhances greater flexibility in providing a teaching environment that utilizes both theory and experimentation
Goals, Objectives and Outcomes
The overall goal of the project is to enhance student learning and improve retention of students in the department. Encouraged by our initial findings of improved grades and attendance in the Electronics course, the department will implement the Tablet PC into the curriculum often upper-level classes. Furthermore, the Tablet PCs will be distributed to all junior-level students in the department for an entire year, allowing students to take notes, engage in online projects and utilize industry-standard design software. Because of the enhanced interaction between students and the Mobile Laboratory tools, we expect the grade performance to improve in all of the proposed courses using the Tablet PC in the curriculum.
Evaluating advancements in student learning can be achieved by assessing both exam grades and individualized design projects. In previous classes, students did not have access to computer-based design packages; the courses relied on traditional problem sets and exams to access learning. Utilizing the newly acquired software tool, MATLAB for individual design projects will provide a broader indication whether students can retain the lecture information and apply it in a working system. We have already observed enhanced student learning in the project involving individualized design projects using Mentor Graphics or PSpice design tools.
A qualitative study of students in the department has already shown that using the Tablet PC increased students' interest in the class. This would suggest that the Tablet PC would best serve students who do not perform well because of poor motivation and interest. We plan to compare exam grades of students with and without the Tablet PC with the expectation that students using the Tablet PC will achieve higher exam grades.   Collectively, we should observe a decrease in the number of D's and F's suggesting that the poor performing students are motivated to learn using the Tablet PC.
Based on the success of our initial project, we plan to expand the Tablet PC project to all courses in the department. We have also planned to submit proposals to other funding agencies. Experiences, knowledge and results gained through this grant will significantly strengthen our capability to secure new funding beyond the 2007-08 period. As a result, we will be able to sustain our Mobile Studio program and continue to improve the quality of education for the students in our department, across other departments at Howard, and even students at other collaborative HBCUs.
Courses Impacted
The project will target nine undergraduate upper-level electrical and computer engineering core
Project Visibility
The Lockheed Martin Mobile Studio will provide visibility for the company. We have already been successful in promoting the Tablet PC concept using Open-house demonstrations on campus.   We plan to continue this endeavor throughout the year. Also, we have established a website that on the Mobile Studio project that receives more than 50 hits-per-month from around the world. The Tablet PC program will provide a platform to network with other engineering programs at other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). We have already found two universities -Morgan State University and North Carolina A&T University- that have shown an interest in applying the Mobile Studio approach to their electrical engineering departments. .
Project Investigators:
Chares Kim and Mohamed Chouikha



Link to Main/Recent Mobile Lab Page
Link to Initial Mobile Lab Activities Page
Link to HP Technology in Teaching (with Mobile Lab Approach) Page