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Design Of A Pragmatic Network Communications Laboratory For Engineering Technology

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.135.1 - 2.135.7

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Paper Authors

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P. J. Shull

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K. Vescovi

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

Session 3548

Design of a Pragmatic Network Communications Laboratory for Engineering Technology

P. J. Shull* and K. Vescovi** * Department of Engineering Penn State University - Altoona Altoona, PA 16601 ** Concurrent Technologies Corporation Johnstown, PA 15904


Unlike most physical sciences where laboratory instruction is accepted as integral to the student’s education, data communications and networking are often taught without the practicality of the laboratory section. However a review of the literature shows increasing interest in and merits of including a laboratory in a data communications and networking course. One such early work by Smith [1] emphasized a very basic approach to instruct in network protocol. His approach of limiting communication to the serial port of the PC’s allowed for the development of an inexpensive laboratory. A similar approach was presented by Akhtar [2] whose laboratory experiments emphasized different communication protocols. Building on Smith’s work, Classen , et al, [3] outlined the development of a data communications laboratory emphasizing hands-on experience with algorithms and protocols.

An alternative approach to the expense of an actual laboratory is to use software simulators. However, while useful, this instructional technique limits the availability of important problems and solutions commonly encountered with network systems, as clearly shown in a paper by Mengel, et al,[4].

At the Penn State - Altoona, a different approach to data communications and networking laboratory is being developed in conjunction with a traditional class on the subject. This laboratory is designed to meet the needs of a new four year Bachelor of Science program in electro-mechanical engineering technology, BSEMET. The particular emphasis of this program is on automated industrial manufacturing. To achieve this goal, students in this program are educated in the areas of electricity/electronics, mechanical systems, process control and data communications as well as the integrated areas of automation and design.

The purpose of detailing the BSEMET program is to emphasize the difference in the needs of this laboratory as compared to many other programs. As mentioned, the use of network laboratories in support of classroom education is relatively new. The majority of these current papers discuss efforts to educate the students towards advancing the technology as opposed to

Shull, P. J., & Vescovi, K. (1997, June), Design Of A Pragmatic Network Communications Laboratory For Engineering Technology Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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