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An Asynchronous Course/Laboratory Development for Automation Controls

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Curriculum and New Course Development in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Cheng Y. Lin P.E. Old Dominion University

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Dr. Lin is a Professor and Program Director of Mechanical Engineering Technology at Old Dominion University. He received his PhD of Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1989, and is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. Dr. Lin has expertise in automation control, machine design, CAD/CAM, CNC, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, and robotics. He has been active in the technology application research and teaching training courses for the local industries and technology application center

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Mileta Tomovic Old Dominion University

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Dr. Tomovic received BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Belgrade, MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Michigan. Dr. Tomovic is Professor and Director of Advanced Manufacturing Institute, F. Batten College of Engineering and Technology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA . Prior to joining ODU Dr. Tomovic had seventeen years of teaching and research experience at Purdue University, with emphasis on development and delivery of manufacturing curriculum, conducting applied research, and engagement with Indiana industry. While at Purdue University, Dr. Tomovic served as W. C. Furnas Professor of Enterprise Excellence, University Faculty Scholar, Director of Digital Enterprise Center, and Special Assistant to Dean for Advanced Manufacturing. He has co-authored one textbook on materials and manufacturing processes that has been adopted by over 50 national and international institutions of higher education. In addition, he has authored or co-authored over 60 papers in journals and conference proceedings, focused on applied research related to design and manufacturability issues, as well as issues related to mechanical engineering technology education. Dr. Tomovic made over 20 invited presentations nationally and internationally on the issues of design optimization and manufacturability. He has co-authored four patents, and over 100 technical reports on practical industrial problems related to product design and manufacturing process improvements. Dr. Tomovic is also serving as Honorary Visiting Professor at Beihang University, Beijing, China.

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Vukica M. Jovanovic Old Dominion University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jovanovic received her in Mechatronics, Robotics and Automation at Industrial Engineering and M.Sc. in Production Systems Design at Industrial Engineering from University of Novi Sad, Serbia. She received a PhD in Technology at Purdue University, while working as a PhD student in Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Product Lifecycle Management Center of Excellence. Dr. Jovanovic is currently serving as Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology, Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology at ODU. She is teaching classes in the area of mechatronics and computer aided engineering. Her research Interests are: mechatronics, robotics, digital manufacturing, product lifecycle management, manufacturing systems, ergonomics, human factors, assembly, disassembly, reverse engineering, RFID, and engineering education.

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The development of asynchronous courses is to help distance students who are restricted by work requirements, family responsibilities, geographical distance, disabilities, and combination of these factors. It also provides flexibilities to on-campus students. In this paper, the development of an asynchronous course with laboratory for an automation control is presented. The main objective in this development is to provide hands-on laboratory experience to distance learning students who may not be able to access the real equipment. In the course development, twelve reading modules are developed to cover three main topics: pneumatic circuit design, electrical control design, and PLC programming. When needed, animations and scripts are created for the description of design components and circuits. Each main topic includes four reading modules with homework assignments. Students must submit their assignments before deadlines. The solution for each assignment is posted after the deadline has passed. In this practice, students are only allowed to submit once for each assignment or test to avoid confusion during the grading. Three midterm exams and a comprehensive final exam are given. A web-proctor company is contracted for all closed-book exams using the guidelines stated for each exam. The proctors can contact the instructor for other issues that may occur during the exams. In the laboratory development, fifteen laboratory projects are developed with five projects for each main topic. The software used in this development are listed as following: a. A commercial electrical/pneumatic design software: Students can use this software to design each circuit for their homework or laboratory assignments. They can also use the simulation capability of the software to check their design before implementation. b. A PLC software: The software is used in the last five laboratory assignments. c. Two developed hands-on wiring software: students can use the following two software for circuit wiring purpose: (1) “Assembly Platform” software: Students can choose the parts available in the part library of the system for their electrical and pneumatic wiring. They can also select different colors for wiring hoses or electrical cables. (2) “Assembly Wiring Software for Relay Schematic Ladder Diagrams” software: Students can use the software for electrical wiring and simulation. The software has received the registration from the Copyright Office. The images of the parts created in this development are almost exactly the same as the real components. After passing the deadline, a laboratory solution is provided and a video, which shows the whole process using the real equipment, is also attached. Therefore, the approach can minimize the gap on the hands-on issue between on-campus and distance learning students. The development has been deployed in summer 2015 and received a total of 4.0/5.0 from student feedbacks. Details of the assessment will be presented.

Lin, C. Y., & Tomovic, M., & Jovanovic, V. M. (2016, June), An Asynchronous Course/Laboratory Development for Automation Controls Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26572

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