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Design and Preliminary Evaluation of a Portable Kit for Programmable Logic Controller Education

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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

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.459.1 - 26.459.9



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Paper Authors


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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Design and Preliminary Evaluation of Portable Kit for Programmable Logic Controller EducationPLC control programming is a complex cognitive skill that requires hands‐on experience todevelop proficiency. Successful automation/control engineers must know how to write PLCprograms to control and troubleshoot the process being automated.Often, because of limitations in equipment availability, students must share equipment. Also, inacademic settings, sometimes lecture and lab times are separated by a period of days, leading todecay of knowledge. To increase access to PLC technology, an educational tool kit calledPortablePLC is being developed. The vision for Portable PLC is to create an open platform thatinstructors and students can use to design, build, experiment, and learn about programmablelogic controllers during lectures and labs or at home, anytime and anywhere.Thirty-five portable PLC kits were designed and built. The kits were evaluated by 39undergraduate students. Pre and post tests were used to assess their understanding of timerinstructions, specifically the Timer On (TON) instruction. Students made statistically significantlearning gains as a result of using PortablePLC, and rated the kit positively in terms of its effecton helping them to learn PLC programming, ease of use, allowing them visualize the process,motivating them to want to learn, and relevance. Most importantly, they responded that theywanted to see more tools like the portable PLC kit.

Hsieh, S. (2015, June), Design and Preliminary Evaluation of a Portable Kit for Programmable Logic Controller Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23797

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