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A Discovery Based Systems Laboratory Using Lab View And Matlab

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.20.1 - 5.20.7



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Paper Authors

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Kevin LaFerriere

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John M. Spinelli

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Session 2532

A Discovery Based Systems Laboratory using LabVIEW and MATLAB

John M. Spinelli, Kevin LaFerriere Union College


The development of a discovery based learning laboratory for Systems is described. Sophomore Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering students are introduced to concepts such as linearity, time invariance, frequency response, transient response, delay, and filtering by analyzing "black boxes" containing unknown electrical systems. LabVIEW is used to control programmable function generators which provide inputs to the systems and to gather output data from oscilloscopes. This testing environment can be automated to allow students to perform a wider range of tests than would be possible with manually controlled equipment. MATLAB is used to analyze the data and perform some simple system identification. Example systems given to students as "black boxes" range from simple filters to unusual non-linear and time-variant systems. A goal of this laboratory is to develop in students an intuitive and analytical understanding of the role that system properties play in design and characterization.

1. Introduction

In a typical linear systems course, students are expected to appreciate system properties such as linearity and time-invariance primarily by applying mathematical definitions to circuit or system models. In the laboratory, they typically have a limited appreciation of the importance of such properties. Much of their time is spent building and debugging simple circuits, and limited time remains for a detailed exploration of the behavior of the systems that they build. In early laboratories, we believe that learning can be increased by providing students with the equipment and resources to conduct their own investigation of the behavior of several "black box" unknown systems provided by the instructor. Concepts such as linearity can then be approached from a guided discovery standpoint. As their understanding of linear systems increases, this activity can progress to more formal and sophisticated modeling or system identification. Finally, when major concepts such as frequency response have been mastered the black boxes can be used to motivate the student design of equalizers or approximate inverse systems.

In a chemistry laboratory, students are frequently presented with an "unknown" sample which needs to be identified by testing for the presence of various substances. In a systems lab, a similar educational experience can be gained by giving students an

LaFerriere, K., & Spinelli, J. M. (2000, June), A Discovery Based Systems Laboratory Using Lab View And Matlab Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8311

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