Work in Progress -- Balancing Prescribed and Project-Based Experiences in Microfabrication Laboratories
Student education for microfabrication processes needs to integrate theoretical understanding with process understanding. Instructional challenges exist in designing effective laboratory experiences. The pedagogical issues include linking theoretical lecture concepts to cost-effective laboratories, tailoring the relative time between lectures and laboratories, and balancing the laboratory assignments between prescribed and project-based experiences. We describe the progressive implementations of microfabrication laboratory experiences in graduate courses. The first offering has no laboratory activity. The prescribed laboratory and project-based laboratory components were gradually incorporated. All laboratory experiences were team-based and utilized cost-effective facilities. The assessments indicate that students prefer significant laboratory experience and that learning of selected lecture concepts is enhanced through an interactive environment. Furthermore, observations are made concerning the effective balance of lecture and laboratories and of prescribed and project-based experiences.