Asee peer logo

A Lab For All Seasons, A Lab For All Reasons

Download Paper |


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

5.29.1 - 5.29.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

David F. Ollis

Download Paper |

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

Session 2553

A Lab for All Seasons, A Lab for All Reasons

David F. Ollis North Carolina State University


With NSF SUCCEED funding, we initiated six years ago a laboratory in which new engineering students would use and take apart familiar consumer electronics and household devices(1). These future engineers, in teams of two or three, would move through a series of roles with each device assigned:

READ an explanatory chapter to learn history and principles, USE the device to verify functionality and operability, DISSECT and reassemble the device to view mechanics, optics, and circuit boards, CALCULATE and analyze expected device performance, and TEACH (present) to other teams the principles and lessons learned.

Depending of the lab purpose and the level of detail requested in assignments, each activity may take 30 minutes to 2 hours. Each device can thus be covered in a period ranging from 4 hours to two days, thereby providing a scheduling flexibility which allows facile adaptation to different program purposes.

We first discuss the various pedagogical motivations for such a lab (A Lab for All Reasons), then summarize our experiences and plans to utilize the lab year round (Lab for all Seasons).

A Lab for All Reasons

We have offered the course in several formats, described in the later section, "A Lab for All Seasons." In nearly all of these, a common set of educational advantages appears to pertain, as we now summarize.

1. "Hands-On"

The devices in our current lab include these consumer electronics and common household examples: bar code scanner, CD player, electric and acoustic guitars, facsimile (FAX) machines, the Internet (virtual device), internal combustion (lawnmower) engine, photocopier, optical fiber communication, satellite TV, video camera and videocassette recorder, and water purifier. The ability touch, use, dissect, and reassemble these current engineering devices provides an holistic, direct experience with real world objects rather than with abstract

Ollis, D. F. (2000, June), A Lab For All Seasons, A Lab For All Reasons Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8525

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2000 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015