Huettel appointed ECE Director of Undergraduate Labs

Lisa G. Huettel, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been appointed Director of Undergraduate Laboratories for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“I am very appreciative that Lisa has taken on this effort,” said April S. Brown, ECE Department Chair. “Her experience and excellence in teaching, as well as laboratory design and enhancement, make her uniquely suited for this new position.”

Huettel will work with her colleagues in ECE to ensure an integrated and comprehensive laboratory experience for undergraduate students. Her initial areas of focus include integrating laboratory instruction into the ongoing revisions of the ECE curriculum, coordinating skill instruction across laboratories to improve coherence across courses, and evaluation of the concordance between lecture and laboratory aspects of courses.

In addition, Huettel will lead the introduction of new hardware and software tools into existing laboratories. As industry-standard tools and practices are incorporated into the early stages of undergraduate education, students will be better prepared for their future career environments. She will also oversee facilities and staff-support efforts, and will lead applications for the acquisition of new equipment through contacts with industry and granting agencies.

“This position is extremely important for a number of reasons, including our opportunities for enhanced facilities with the move into CIEMAS of some of our faculty, our upcoming curriculum revision, and our enhanced assessment of classes and laboratories that is currently under review by the undergraduate curriculum committee,” Brown said.

ECE is in the middle of redesigning its entire undergraduate curriculum. The goals of this effort, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, are to provide the best undergraduate education for Duke students and to establish a model for peer institutions. Central to the planned new curriculum is the concept that theoretical and practical instruction must be explicitly conceived as complementary parts of ECE education. While the new curriculum will encompass all four years of an undergraduate education, its foundation will be a first-year laboratory design course. This innovative course introduces concepts fundamental to the entire ECE curriculum and their practical applications through a tight coupling of coursework and hands-on laboratory experience.

“Our goal for the first-year design course is to provide a unique hands-on experience early in the curriculum that will provide an intellectual foundation for later courses.” Huettel said. “By introducing core theoretical concepts in a practical setting, the new course will spark students’ interest in ECE, improving their recruitment and retention.”

Dr. Huettel received a B.S. degree in Engineering Science from Harvard University in 1994 and a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Duke University in 1999. From 1999 until 2002, she was a Research Associate and an Assistant Research Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. Since 2002, she has been an Assistant Professor of the Practice of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. Her current research investigates the application of statistical signal processing to remote sensing.