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A Laboratory Course In Sensors

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.41.1 - 6.41.14

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W. Doyle St.John

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

Session 3280

A Laboratory Course in Sensors

W. Doyle St.John University of Wisconsin - Platteville


A novel feature of our engineering physics program is a 2-credit laboratory course covering sensors and sensor systems. The engineering physics program accentuates areas which are multidisciplinary with an engineering curriculum emphasizing physics, electrical, and mechanical engineering. Following the advice of our industrial advisors, we have developed a course which covers basic sensor technologies, sensor calibration and applications, as well as signal conditioning and computer interfacing. This paper discusses the different types of sensors and the experiments which were developed to study them.

1. Introduction

The Engineering Physics (EP) program at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville began in the Fall of 1996. The EP program was born out of a traditional physics program. Little of the physics curriculum was completely removed in this transformation, although a small number of credits were taken from existing upper level physics courses and replaced with novel EP courses. Three such courses were developed, the engineering physics laboratory (formally advanced physics laboratory), sensors laboratory (formally two credits of advanced modern physics), and senior design (a new capstone course). It is the sensors laboratory course which is the substance of this paper.

The motivation for a laboratory course in sensors originally derived from consultation with our industrial partners and advisors selected to help with the development of the EP curriculum. It was suggested that having some kind of area of specialization would be beneficial and that sensors was an imported area to much of industry and yet not emphasized in any engineering curriculum. From the beginning, the EP program set out to form a multi-disciplinary engineering degree with its upper level engineering curriculum deriving from a mixture of physics, electrical, and mechanical engineering. Thus a subsequent motivation for this course was to have a laboratory course where students work with multi-disciplinary systems. Specifically, the program wanted to create a course which offered a novel area of specialization, multi-disciplinary systems, sensors, and design. As a result, a laboratory course in sensors has been developed which covers the physics exploited in a variety of sensors, basic signal conditioning electronics, computer interfacing, sensor calibration, computer control of

Proceedings fo the 2001 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

St.John, W. D. (2001, June), A Laboratory Course In Sensors Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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