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Developing an Affordable and Reconfigurable Experimental Platform for Teaching Engineering Lab Courses

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Instrumentation Division Technical Session 1

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Paper Authors


Collins Adetu Florida A&M University

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Collins Adetu received his BSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Florida A&M University in 2005. After graduating with his Bachelor's degree, he worked in industry before returning to Florida A&M University to complete his MSc and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 2009 and 2015, respectively. His research interests include robotic controls, teleoperation, and haptics.

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Camilo Ordonez Florida State University

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Camilo Ordonez received the B.S. in Electronics Engineering from Pontificia Bolivariana University in 2003. He obtained his M.S and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Florida State University in 2006 and 2010. Currently, Camilo is a Teaching Faculty at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. His research interests include dynamic modeling of legged and wheeled vehicles, terrain identification, motion planning, and low level control.

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Nikhil Gupta Florida State University Orcid 16x16

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Nikhil Gupta received his Bachelor of Technology degree from Y.M.C.A. Institute of Technology, Haryana, India in 2008, Master of Science degree from North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, in 2010, and Ph.D from Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, in 2014, all in Mechanical Engineering. He is currently an Adjunct Professor teaching Senior Design in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is also serving as Postdoctoral Research Associate at Center of Intelligent Systems, Control, and Robotics (CISCOR) at Florida State University. His research interests are primarily in the areas of dynamic system modeling, intelligent control, autonomous mobile wheeled and legged robotics, dynamic motion planning, and mechatronics.

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A practical understanding of theoretical engineering concepts learned in the classroom is critical to a holistic education experience. Engineering teaching labs provide an avenue for students to apply theories learned in the engineering classroom to real-world scenarios. Although teaching labs can greatly enhance the course experience, a common hindrance in developing an effective lab course is selecting an affordable experimental platform. The lab development cost can increase significantly depending on the number of lab courses and the number of seats required. Therefore, it is important to develop re-configurable platforms for multiple courses and reduce overhead cost. In this paper, we develop an affordable and re-configurable experimental platform, which can be used to teach topics in multiple courses. The proposed platform can be reconfigured to administer topics in mechatronics, controls, computer programming, and robotics. For our design, most of the platform is made from plywood that is laser cut for low cost rapid fabrication. The National Instrument (NI) myRIO embedded device is used to interact with actuators and sensors. Programming of the NI myRIO is accomplished using the NI LabView software. To connect different sensors to the NI myRIO embedded device we design a breakout board making it easier to interface with the embedded device. Sample experiments in controls and robotics are provided in the paper to highlight how the platform could be used to teach topics in multiple courses. Due to the affordable and re-configurable design, this platform can also be used to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts at various levels of education. Developing a low-cost yet effective experimental platform that can be leveraged for use in multiple topics encourages students to become critical thinkers while employing the skills learned in the classroom.

Adetu, C., & Ordonez, C., & Gupta, N. (2016, June), Developing an Affordable and Reconfigurable Experimental Platform for Teaching Engineering Lab Courses Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27289

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