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A Graduate Engineering Technology Course in Networks for the Industrial Environment

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Computer and Informtion Technology-related Issues

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.53.1 - 25.53.9

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Paper Authors


Warren Rosen Drexel University

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Warren A. Rosen received his Ph.D. in physics from Temple University in 1978. Between 1978 and 1985, Rosen served as Assistant Professor of physics at Colby and Vassar colleges, where he carried out research in optical physics, solar physics, and medical physics. From 1985 to 1996, he worked at the Naval AirWarfare Center, Aircraft Division in Warminster, Penn., where he established an optical communications laboratory for development and characterization of optical components, systems, and protocols for high-performance avionics data networks. Rosen is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor at Drexel University, where he is responsible for developing and teaching courses in microprocessors, microcontrollers, and FPGAs. Rosen has carried out research sponsored by the National Security Agency, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, DARPA, the Office of Naval Research, and the Missile Defense Agency. Rosen is the author or coauthor of more than 70 publications and conference proceedings and the holder of six U.S. patents in computer networking and signal processing.

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M. Eric Carr Drexel University Orcid 16x16

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Eric Carr is currently the Laboratory Technician for Drexel University's Engineering Technology program. Carr assists faculty members with the development and implementation of various engineering technology courses, and enjoys finding innovative ways to use microcontrollers and other technologies to enhance Drexel's Engineering Technology course offerings. Carr holds an M.S. in computer engineering from Drexel University and is an author of several recent technical papers in the field of engineering technology education.

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A Graduate Engineering Technology Course in Networks for the Industrial EnvironmentThis paper describes the development of a new graduate engineering technology course inadvanced networks for industrial environments. The course is intended to provide an in-depthoverview of high-performance wired and wireless networks for industrial control,communications, and computing. In the past, the topic of industrial data networks focused onnetworks designed for control, data acquisition, or remote sensing, but increasingly industrialnetworks are used to connect computers in industrial settings. These computers may be desktopsor laptops, or they can be small, single-chip microcontrollers costing less than a dollar, but stillconnected to a network. Furthermore, few modern companies could exist without email, webpages or web-based accounting and data backup systems. Networks for all these applications arebeginning to share Internet-like features, including network protocols and hardware. There arethree reasons for this—first, the explosion in Internet-based networking technologies as well asresearch in improving them have dramatically driven their cost down while increasingavailability and quality. Second, the concerns for both applications are the same—performance,cost, reliability, and security. Finally, Internet-based manufacturing is becoming an importantnew technology. As a result, an Internet-like approach to understanding these networks is taken.The emphasis is on understanding current and newly emerging network architectures, protocols,and technologies in terms of performance, network services, ease of implementation,maintenance, reliability, risk, and cost. The course begins with an introduction to what networkprotocols are, using the example of collision detection in the context of ordinary conversation.The use of this technique in first generation Ethernet is then described. This is followed by adiscussion of protocol standardization efforts and layered protocols. Circuit and packet switchingare compared with respect to performance, ease of implementation, and cost. Statistical methodsand industry-standard CAD tools used in performance modeling are then described. Theintroduction concludes with a discussion of physical media, including copper wire, wireless, andfiber optic cable, with an emphasis on cost-performance tradeoffs.Following the introduction a detailed description of each of the layers of the TCP/IP protocolstack is presented. A top-down approach is used, starting with the Application and Transportlayers and ending with the Network Access layer. Next, a number of network protocols used inindustry are described in detail, beginning with Ethernet. Ethernet is not only ubiquitous incommunications systems but is also widely used in industrial control. This is followed by adescription of representative industry-specific protocols such as CAN and DPN3. Wirelessnetwork protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee are then described. The courseconcludes with a discussion of network performance and security.The course is currently offered entirely online. Two of the key challenges in developing thecourse were an emphasis on hands-on experience and the ability to support real-time studentproject presentations. To provide hands-on experience with network protocols, experiments withtwo industry-standard modeling and evaluation tools, OPNET’s IT Guru and Wireshark, are used.OPNET is a network traffic simulator used for packet-level performance analysis of metrics suchas throughput and delay. Wireshark is an open-source network protocol analyzer. Students canfreely download IT Guru and Wireshark and perform the experiments on their own computers.Both Wimba Live Classroom and Adobe Connect are available to support real-time studentpresentations.

Rosen, W., & Carr, M. E. (2012, June), A Graduate Engineering Technology Course in Networks for the Industrial Environment Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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