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Board # 118 : MAKER: Smart Packaging Machine Simulator for Teaching Ladder Logic Programming

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

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Robert Barham New Caney ISD

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Robert Barham has been teaching secondary math and technology courses for twenty years. Currently, he teaches engineering courses at Porter High School in Porter, Texas, some forty miles northeast of Houston. He is working with the local community college to articulate acceptance of high school robotics and automation courses toward the requirements of an A.A.S. degree in mechatronics. Email:

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Sheng-Jen Hsieh Texas A&M University

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Dr. Sheng-Jen (“Tony”) Hsieh is a Professor in the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. He holds a joint appointment with the Department of Engineering Technology and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include engineering education, cognitive task analysis, automation, robotics and control, intelligent manufacturing system design, and micro/nano manufacturing. He is also the Director of the Rockwell Automation laboratory at Texas A&M University, a state-of-the-art facility for education and research in the areas of automation, control, and automated system integration.

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This paper describes the design, construction, and evaluation of an instructional module for public school engineering students in grades 10, 11, and 12. The module is designed to teach students how to write controller programs in Ladder Logic, the language of the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). The module consists of a combination of lecture and guided practice activities that require students to wire, program, and build with PLCs and robotic components presently common in public school engineering courses. This module was created as a result of attending a Summer Research Experiences for Teachers program at Texas A&M University in 2016. The instructional module was delivered to two classes in digital electronics. A pre-instructional assessment was used to measure prior learning, and then instruction commenced. Each class worked in teams of four to create Ladder Logic programs for the simulator, upload the code to its PLC, and operate the machine. After successfully programming and operating the machine, students were administered a post-instructional assessment and the results of the two instruments were compared. A one-tailed, paired sample t-Test indicated a statistically significant (a < .05) increase in student understanding.

Barham, R., & Hsieh, S. (2017, June), Board # 118 : MAKER: Smart Packaging Machine Simulator for Teaching Ladder Logic Programming Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27704

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