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Analog To Digital Mechanics Lab Conversion: Lessons Learned

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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

6.191.1 - 6.191.10



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Paper Authors

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William Szaroletta

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Lloyd Ewing

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Nancy L. Denton

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

Session 2168

Analog to Digital Mechanics Lab Conversion: Lessons Learned

Nancy Denton, Bill Szaroletta, Lloyd Ewing Purdue University


To upgrade the laboratory supporting an introductory sophomore-level strength of materials course to reflect current industry practice and address student requests, the authors have begun converting the current experiments from analog instrumentation with hand-recorded data to National Instruments LabVIEW based testing. This paper reviews the challenges encountered during the conversion of one experiment; a three-point beam bending experiment investigating the effect of material and cross-sectional area changes on maximum deflection. Approximately eighty students over two semesters beta-tested the LabVIEW virtual instrument for load and deflection measurement. The benefits and drawbacks of using the automated data acquisition (DAQ) version of the experiment are discussed from both instructor and student perspectives.

I. Instructional Approach

This strength of materials course provides the students a hands-on opportunity to experience the theory introduced in the lecture. Laboratory experiments generally follow theoretical development and homework problems on each topic. Laboratory work, including experiment set-up, operation, and data collection, is conducted within a team environment, with each team member having an assigned role. For experiments with a high degree of repetitive activity, such as Three-Point Bending, team members are encouraged to rotate roles after several iterations. Though the experimental work is done in teams, each individual provides a written report that is submitted within two weeks of completion of the experiment.1

Typical laboratory sessions have three to six teams, with teams ranging in size from a minimum of three to a maximum of eight students. Teams are formed by instructor assignment after a brief experiment-specific lecture that explains (and sometimes demonstrates) the hardware and software to be utilized during that particular laboratory session. This method of team formation, which varies the team’s make-up from week to week, assures that there is a good mixing of the students and team roles. The practical aspect of this method of team formation is that it mirrors industry, where one does not necessarily expect to work with the same individuals from project to project and responsibilities change with each project.

II. Introduction to Three-Point Bending

Beam flexure and shear flow theories are introduced to the students in the lecture portion of the strength of materials course. Knowledge gained from prerequisite courses, lecture material and

Szaroletta, W., & Ewing, L., & Denton, N. L. (2001, June), Analog To Digital Mechanics Lab Conversion: Lessons Learned Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--8901

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