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centralized platform project for multiple ECE core courses

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Projects in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.280.1 - 23.280.12



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Paper Authors


Lin Zhao Gannon University

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Lin Zhao received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada in 2006. Since 2007, she has been with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gannon University, Erie, PA, where she is currently an Assistant Professor. Her research interests include electrical machinery design and modeling, and control of electric drives.

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Nigel Yu Gannon University

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Electrical and Computer Engineering student.

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Centralized platform project for multiple ECE core coursesAbstract: This paper presents the authors’ innovative teaching practice of utilizing acentralized platform project to link three core courses (Automatic Control in Junior firstsemester, Power Electronics in Junior second semester and Intro to Electric Drives inSenior first semester) in ECE curriculum. Traditionally these three courses are taught inrelative isolation with each course focusing on its own teaching materials and structure.Even though students get satisfied grade and successfully complete all the experimentsfor each course, we found that they still struggle when coming to combining all theknowledge they learned into designing and integrating a complete drive system duemainly to the lack of system-level integration experience.The centralized project was designed based on an Opal-RT based state-of-the-arthardware-in-the-loop real-time electric drives control system as shown in Fig. 1 (a). Itconsists of five main blocks: plant block, actuator block, sensors block, interface blockand controller block. Color coded Fig. 1 (b) illustrates the relationship between thecourses and the blocks with proposed course projects. When students are taking aparticular course, the related block will be studied and multiple approaches of how todesign that block will be attempted. The rest of the blocks will be provided and treated asblack boxes. After taking all three courses, all the blocks in the system will have beeninvestigated thoroughly. As a result, a system-level integration experience has beendeveloped with each block having multiple possible designs. Additionally, with thefeatures provided by the Opal-RT system, each physical block can simply be an offlinesimulation block or a real hardware item. This feature provides invaluable flexibility forproject design and lab activities for students. By doing so, students will have role play ofreal engineer in a real industrial environment where a project is always part of a largersystem-level project.This paper presents detailed information of the centralized platform project and samplecourse projects to show the teaching/learning focuses at different level. It also presentsthe feedbacks from students, the assessment and evaluation of the courses with two full-year evaluation data from both the students and peer faculty members. (a) (b) Figure 1. Centralized platform project

Zhao, L., & Yu, N. (2013, June), centralized platform project for multiple ECE core courses Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19294

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