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Adapting an Engineering Physics Measurements Laboratory to Incorporate Metrology Concepts

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Innovations in Teaching and Research in Physics or Engineering Physics I

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.140.1 - 23.140.8



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Paper Authors


Harold T. Evensen University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Hal Evensen is a Professor of Engineering Physics, with several years as Program Coordinator. He has research interests in organic solar cells and nanoscale material characterization.

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W. Doyle St.John University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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W. Doyle St.John is Professor and Chair, Department of Engineering Physics, University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Professor St.John received a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tulsa University (1986) and Oklahoma State University (1988) respectively and a Ph.D. in Physics from Oklahoma State University (1993). He then held a postdoctoral research associate position at the Liquid Crystal Institute located on the campus of Kent State University working on flat-panel display metrology followed by a research scientist position at AlliedSignal (Madison, NJ) working on developing novel optical devices for new flat-panel display technologies. He then joined UWP (1996) assigned to develop from the ground floor a new Engineering Physics program. He continues in that role today teaching all areas of physics and engineering physics, currently serving as Department Chair as well, and pursues research in optical metrology.

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Adapting an Engineering Physics Measurements Laboratory to Incorporate Metrology ConceptsWe are restructuring an existing required, two-credit advanced laboratory coursearound the subject matter of metrology and design of experiments. This is beingdone for several reasons: to provide a unifying theme for the course, whichpreviously was a collection of unrelated experiments; to more clearly identify thepurpose of the course to students, faculty, and outside observers; and to provide aclearer link between the skills a student gains in the course, and the methods andskills desired by industry. The course – “Engineering Physics (EP) Lab” – istypically taken in a student’s third year. It has advanced prerequisite courses,enabling more in-depth studies of physical phenomena and more sophisticatednumerical analysis. Indeed, many Physics programs have a similar type of course.While an important part of the curriculum, it has lacked a “unifying idea” thathelps explain the course to employers and students: it largely consisted of studentgroups rotating among challenging, but unrelated, experiments. Metrology, thescience of measurement, is a core competency of STEM fields and plays a key rolein modern engineering practice. It deals with several aspects that are common to(or readily adapted to) our laboratory course: (1) uncertainty in measurements(and its propagation); (2) traceability of measurements to the SI units via theNational Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); (3) calibration of ameasurement instrument or process; (4) using design of experiments (DOE) forstatistical analysis of variation in a process. In this paper we will describe howincorporating these ideas has complemented and enhanced the course so that it hasan enhanced focus on quality of measurement. In addition to describing the courseand its experiments, we will also report on the results of the first offering of thisredesigned course and remark on future improvements.

Evensen, H. T., & St.John, W. D. (2013, June), Adapting an Engineering Physics Measurements Laboratory to Incorporate Metrology Concepts Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19154

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