University College Dublin (IRELAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN17 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 7868-7877
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.0043
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
This paper describes the author's experience in teaching the module Electrical Energy Systems to second year engineering students at University College Dublin, Ireland. This is a challenging module for a variety of reasons. First, the module is offered at a stage at which students have seen only very basic concepts of electric and electronic circuit theory. Then, most students are not going to specialize in energy systems, but rather the electronic and telecommunications, and are, hence, not so motivated to study and understand concepts related to energy conversion and electrical machines. Another challenge is the large number of students, about 180, which consistently complicates the logistic of laboratory activities and tutorials. Last but not least, the modules has to “touch” several methodologies, spanning from steady-state ac circuits, energy conversion, electrical machine modelling and power system analysis. To further complicate the challenge, all the matter above has to be taught in a as simple and as interesting way as possible.

The main motivation for creating an “Electrical Energy Systems” module in a second year stage is to try to increase the number of students that choose to pursue BE and ME Electrical Energy Engineering programmes. The current situation, in fact, is that the vast majority of students prefers to specialize in Electronic Engineering. The ratio is 4 to 1, even 5 to 1 in bad years. It is relevant to note that the number of power system students is relatively low everywhere in the world when compared to electronic engineering and informatics students. This paper also provides a reflection on the reasons why the electrical energy systems field is not very appealing for the students and, based on such a discussion, attempts to define a proper didactic approach for the considered second year Electrical Energy Systems module.

The author has implemented the concepts discussed in the paper in the academic year 2016/17 at University College Dublin. This fact allows reporting in the paper the effects of the proposed methodological and didactic approach based on real-world statistics and comparing 2016/17 with previous years when such approach was not implemented. The comparison is based on students’ feedback and on the number of students that enlisted in the BE and ME programmes of Electrical Energy Systems.

The final paper will provide the following contributions.
1. A discussion on why electrical energy systems are less attractive than electronic ones. The discussion considers both general idiosyncratic aspects of electrical engineering as well as issues that are specific to Ireland.
2. A detailed taxonomy of the methodological and didactic challenges and some proposed solutions for a module that have to capture the attention of second year students with still no proper “engineering” way of thinking. Several real-world examples are given to support such a discussion.
3. Relevant students’ feedback and statistics on the effects of the adopted didactic approach based on the module “Electrical Energy System” taught by the author at University College Dublin.
Electrical energy systems, electrical engineering education, computer-based laboratory.