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A Distance Learning Laboratory For Engineering Education

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.14.1 - 2.14.8



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Paper Authors

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Stephen P. DeWeerth

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Clinton D. Knight

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1532

A Distance Learning Laboratory for Engineering Education

Clinton D. Knight, Stephen P. DeWeerth Georgia Institute of Technology

Introduction The World Wide Web (WWW) got its start as a publishing medium and soon evolved into a large worldwide repository of heterogeneous material1. Educators quickly realized the potential of the Web for “distance learning,” as hypertext material and multimedia segments could be delivered across computer networks via a simple, user-friendly interface. And while hypertext certainly promotes efficient learning and caters to diverse learning styles, WWW-mediated access to static information is only the beginning. The ultimate use of the Web will be as a 1 software delivery mechanism . Now that the Java language and development tools are maturing, truly interactive WWW applications are becoming feasible2.

Distance learning is one of the most promising applications of the Internet, and many universities are creating new correspondence courses with WWW delivery in mind. Certainly the Web is a phenomenal avenue for navigating efficiently through course material. The distance learning model falls short, however, in a critical component of any electrical engineering curriculum: instructional laboratories. This need can be partly filled by electronics simulation projects, but there is no substitute for real measurement data and hands-on bench experience.

We present a system that provides access to and control of systems across the WWW. Specifically, our system delivers remote access to electronic test equipment and is currently being used at Georgia Tech in graduate electronic circuits classes. Applications of remote circuit testing abound in instructional and research laboratories, and the concepts developed are useful for more generic applications.

Overview The model for the remote testing system is a device under test (DUT) connected to a set of GPIB-controlled test instruments via a switching matrix. A remote user can extract data from the DUT by configuring the matrix and stimulus instruments and then querying response instruments, all from a remote location. The graphical capabilities of Web browsers allow the system to offer data plotting for quick analysis and further testing.

Our first remote testing system required the user to submit a script via a WWW page, which was subsequently interpreted by the server and used to control GPIB-connected instruments. This “batch-mode” system worked well for large classes, but debugging a test program was often difficult without visual feedback from the instruments. Using the same hardware configuration and the Java programming language, we have created a fully interactive remote testing system

DeWeerth, S. P., & Knight, C. D. (1997, June), A Distance Learning Laboratory For Engineering Education Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6520

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