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An Integrated Course in Programming for Laboratory and Process Control

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Integrating Curriculum and Labs in ET Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.192.1 - 26.192.10



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Paper Authors


Warren A. Rosen Drexel University (Eng. & Eng. Tech.)

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Dr. Warren Rosen received his Ph.D. in physics from Temple University. He has served as Assistant Professor of Physics at Colby and Vassar Colleges where he carried out research in solar physics, medical physics, and instrumentation. Following this experience he was a research scientist at the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster, PA where he established a laboratory for research in high-performance computer networks and architectures for mission avionics and signal processing systems, and served as the Navy’s representative on several national and international standards committees. In 1997 joined the staff of Drexel University, first as a research professor in the Electrical And Computer Engineering Department and later as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology. Also in 1997, Dr. Rosen founded Rydal Research and Development, Inc., which has carried out research in networking devices and protocols for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Office of Naval Research. Dr. Rosen is the author or co-author of over 80 publications and conference proceedings and the holder of six U.S. patents in computer networking and signal processing.

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Irina Nicoleta Ciobanescu Husanu Drexel University (Tech.)

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Irina Ciobanescu Husanu, Ph. D. is Assistant Clinical Professor with Drexel University, Engineering Technology program. Her area of expertise is in thermo-fluid sciences with applications in micro-combustion, fuel cells, green fuels and plasma assisted combustion. She has prior industrial experience in aerospace engineering that encompasses both theoretical analysis and experimental investigations such as designing and testing of propulsion systems including design and development of pilot testing facility, mechanical instrumentation, and industrial applications of aircraft engines. Also, in the past 10 years she gained experience in teaching ME and ET courses in both quality control and quality assurance areas as well as in thermal-fluid, energy conversion and mechanical areas from various levels of instruction and addressed to a broad spectrum of students, from freshmen to seniors, from high school graduates to adult learners. She also has extended experience in curriculum development. Dr Husanu developed laboratory activities for Measurement and Instrumentation course as well as for quality control undergraduate and graduate courses in ET Masters program. Also, she introduced the first experiential activity for Applied Mechanics courses. She is coordinator and advisor for capstone projects for Engineering Technology.

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M. Eric Carr Drexel University Orcid 16x16

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Mr. Eric Carr is a full-time Laboratory Manager and part-time adjunct instructor with Drexel University’s Department of Engineering Technology. Eric assists faculty members with the development and implementation of various Engineering Technology courses. A graduate of Old Dominion University’s Computer Engineering Technology program and Drexel's College of Engineering, Eric enjoys finding innovative ways to use microcontrollers and other technologies to enhance Drexel’s Engineering Technology course offerings. Eric is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Computer Engineering at Drexel, and is an author of several technical papers in the field of Engineering Technology Education.

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An Integrated Course in Programming for Laboratory and Process ControlThis paper describes an integrated course in programming techniques for controlling laboratoryexperiments and industrial processes. The course is intended to provide first-year engineeringtechnology students a broad overview of available programming technologies. To do this, twoprogramming tools were chosen—the C programming language and LabVIEW. The first half ofthe course is dedicated to C programming. Topics include a brief introduction to computers andprogramming, I/O, data types, expressions and assignments, relational operators, loops andbranching, functions, and arrays. This part of the course is taught in a computer laboratory sothat each student has an individual computer and experimental hardware setup. Every lectureincludes simple exercises (~ 5 minutes each) that are preformed by the students in real time asthe relevant topic is covered. Most lectures are followed by a laboratory exercise. Someexamples of the exercises include building a “traffic light” using a three-color LED, building asimple proximity warning system using an acoustic rangefinder and three-color LED, andcontrolling a servo motor. The laboratory exercises are based on the Arduino microcontrollerplatform. Code::Blocks is used as the development environment. The advantage of usingCode::Blocks is that it supports programming in both standard C and Arduino C, so that thestudents do not need to use a separate tool (e.g., Arduino IDE) to program the microcontroller.The LabVIEW part of the course is dedicated to enhancing students’ understanding ofmonitoring and control processes. Using LabVIEW, students are required to create virtualexperimental set-up as well as create monitoring and control interfaces with a physicalexperiment. In this integrated approach, they are using lab modules similar to those used in the Ccomponent of the course, so that they can evaluate and compare the two approaches, and are alsoable to use them both when needed. Laboratory activities include temperature monitoring andcontrol, sequential exercise such as gate opening and closing, state machine type of exercises andalso complex overarching exercises such as “lottery scheme play”. Besides the scholasticpurposes of these activities, students gain a tremendous hands-on experiences using real-lifeexamples.Students enter the course with little or no formal training in either C or LabVIEW. Expectedoutcomes include the ability of the students to explain and use basic I/O operations, data types,assignments, functions, and simple control statements to develop C and LabVIEW programs forindustrial and laboratory applications, and to use industry-standard development environments.Multiple forms of assessment are used to demonstrate success, including student surveys, courseexams, and homework.  

Rosen, W. A., & Ciobanescu Husanu, I. N., & Carr, M. E. (2015, June), An Integrated Course in Programming for Laboratory and Process Control Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23531

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