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Developing Portable Lab Kits for a Foundational Circuits Class

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Sarah E. Lopez Utah State University

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Sarah Lopez is a graduate student at Utah State University, pursuing a PhD in Engineering Education and a Masters in Electrical Engineering. She graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2016 with degrees in Computer Engineering and Math Education. Her research interests include spatial ability, robotics education, and the signal processing of biometric data, such as EEG, in engineering education research.

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Oenardi Lawanto Utah State University

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Dr. Oenardi Lawanto is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Utah State University, USA. He received his B.S.E.E. from Iowa State University, his M.S.E.E. from the University of Dayton, and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before coming to Utah State, Dr. Lawanto taught and held several administrative positions at one large private university in Indonesia. He has developed and delivered numerous international workshops on student-centered learning and online learning-related topics during his service. Dr. Lawanto’s research interests include cognition, learning, and instruction, and online learning.

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Presentacion Rivera-Reyes University at Buffalo, SUNY

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Presentacion Rivera-Reyes is currently a Lecturer working in the Office of Undergraduate Education, School of Engineering and Applied Science at SUNY-Buffalo. Previously, he held a position of postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He formerly held a position of teaching assistant in the Engineering Education Department at Utah State University. He also worked as a laboratory instructor of Telecommunication Engineering at Technological University of Honduras teaching courses of Transmission System to senior students. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the National Autonomous University of Honduras and his Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Utah State University. He has experience in the telecommunication industry where he worked as a Project Manager developing solutions of high-speed transmission systems for internet services providers and mobile service companies. He has trained engineers and technicians through formal courses, on-the-job training, and supervising on field. His research interest includes self-regulated learning, abstraction in problem solving, and troubleshooting problem solving in laboratory environments. His long-term goals include improving laboratory hands-on activities based on how students improve their metacognitive skills.

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Increasing online and distance education has become a significant interest in engineering education today. As these venues for learning have become increasingly feasible and popular, one aspect of engineering education resists the transition online: the laboratory experience. A traditional engineering teaching laboratory (lab) requires a significant amount of equipment, materials, and personnel in order to operate, and so the experience is therefore restricted to a specific time and space. To address this, labs have been developed to allow remote access to local equipment so that students can conduct experiments through an interface over the internet. While this is a valuable resource, it reduces hands-on interaction and still requires maintenance, troubleshooting, and space at the host site.

However, new technology in circuit analysis has made it possible to assemble the basic equipment needed in an electronics lab station in a small kit for less than $350. On this scale, it becomes possible to create portable lab kits that individual students could use to perform lab experiments on their own time outside of the physical lab.

This paper describes a pilot test of a portable lab format based on the Analog Discovery USB oscilloscope and multi-function instrument made by Digilent®. The format was developed and tested in an introductory circuits course covering the analog analysis of electrical circuits under alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC), and a brief introduction to digital circuits. The course includes three hours of lecture per week and a three-hour lab every other week that explores concepts and applications related to lecture topics.

The development process is documented, including adaptations to lab exercises necessitated by the limitations of the Analog Discovery. Also, student feedback was collected throughout the pilot testing process, and general themes and ideas are presented here. As anticipated, students struggle to become familiar with the Analog Discovery system, but benefit from the flexibility offered by the portable lab. Finally, recommendations for future implementations are given based on lessons learned along the way.

Lopez, S. E., & Lawanto, O., & Rivera-Reyes, P. (2018, June), Developing Portable Lab Kits for a Foundational Circuits Class Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30310

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