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Application Centered Methodology For Teaching Programmable Logic Controllers

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.226.1 - 8.226.8



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Paper Authors

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Sridhar Condoor

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

Session 1566

Application-Centered Methodology for Teaching Programmable Logic Controllers

Condoor, S.S. Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri


The paper discusses the methodology used for teaching programmable logic controllers – a part of the Mechatronics curriculum. The goal of the curriculum is to nurture skills that can help in implementing a Mechatronics project from the functional specifications. To this end, we developed a teaching paradigm involving several modules each with six identical steps. In this teaching paradigm, students see: 1. tangible results after every module, 2. the applicability of mechatronics concepts in real-world situations, 3. the importance of looking for alternative approaches for solving a given task, and 4. understanding of the product/process design The paper describes the methodology, presents the applications used (and the relevant hardware and software concepts), shows the gradual increase in complexity, and presents the advantages of the methodology based on student reviews.


Mechatronics refers to the synergistic integration of mechanical engineering (structural design and kinematics), electronic control, and system concepts in the design of industrial products and processes [1]. It bridges the existing gaps between mechanical and electrical engineering. It is becoming increasing important with the new smart products which require close integration of both mechanical and electrical engineering concepts. We noticed two opportunities which can be addressed by introducing mechatronics curriculum. The opportunities are: 1. ME students are unsure of handling electrical engineering portion of any project. The deficiencies range from their inability to: a. translate wiring diagrams into physical hardware, b. pick the right actuator or a control system, and c. design and implement a mechatronics system in the capstone design course. These observations are consistent with other members of mechatronics teaching community [2] 2. A current competency gap that exists between the teaching and the practice of engineering is industrial controls [3]. As a result, the entry-level engineers require significant amount of training and time before they become productive.

Recognizing that a hands-on exposure to industrial control will provide tremendous benefits to the students, mechatronics curriculum at Saint Louis University was

“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Condoor, S. (2003, June), Application Centered Methodology For Teaching Programmable Logic Controllers Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11836

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