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Development and Implementation of i-Laboratory for Instrumentation, Sensors, Measurements, and Controls Courses

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Projects in Instrumentation and Control

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.447.1 - 25.447.15



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Paper Authors


Radian G. Belu Drexel University

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Radian Belu is Assistant Professor within the Engineering Technology (ET) program, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA. He is holding the second position as Research Assistant Professor at Desert Research Institute, Renewable Energy Center, Reno, Nev. Before joining to Drexel University, Belu held faculty and research positions at universities and research institutes in Romania, Canada, and the United States. He also worked for several years in industry as a project manager and senior consultant. He has taught and developed undergraduate and graduate courses in electronics, power systems, control and power electronics, electric machines, instrumentation, radar and remote sensing, numerical methods and data analysis, space and atmosphere physics, and physics. His research interests included power system stability, control and protection, renewable energy system analysis, assessment and design, power electronics and electric machines for wind energy conversion, radar and remote sensing, wave and turbulence simulation, measurement and modeling, numerical modeling, electromagnetic compatibility, and engineering education. During his career, Belu published several papers in referred journals and in conference proceedings in his areas of the research interests. He has also been PI or Co-PI for various research projects United States and abroad in power systems analysis and protection, load and energy demand forecasting and analysis, renewable energy analysis, assessment and design, turbulence and wave propagation, radar and remote sensing, instrumentation, atmosphere physics, electromagnetic compatibility, and engineering education.

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Irina Nicoleta Ciobanescu Husanu Drexel University

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Irina Ciobanescu Husanu (Co-PI) is Assistant Professor in applied engineering at Drexel University. She received her Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University and also a M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering. Her research interest is in thermo-fluid sciences with applications in micro-combustion, fuel cells, green fuels, and plasma assisted combustion. Husanu has prior industrial experience in aerospace engineering that encompasses both theoretical analysis and experimental investigations such as designing and testing of propulsion systems including design and development of pilot testing facility, mechanical instrumentation, and industrial applications of aircraft engines. Also, in the past seven years, she gained experience in teaching ME and ET courses in thermal-fluid and energy conversion areas from various levels of instruction and addressed to a broad spectrum of students, from freshmen to seniors, from high school graduates to adult learners. She also has extended experience in curriculum development.

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Development and Implementation of i-Laboratory for Instrumentation, Sensors, Measurements and Controls CoursesInformation and communication technologies have had a significant impact on engineeringeducation, by notably improving the online, distance, and collaborative learning, and by enablingthe use of the virtual experiments and simulations. Virtual laboratories represent a keyeducational value to engineering curricula in a variety of cases, whether as a complement to ahands-on experience or a substitute when a traditional lab is not feasible.One of the distinguishing features of engineering technology education is the integration oflaboratory work and hands-on experience, bringing the students closer to real situationsencountered in the industry. Measurements, sensors, and instrumentation are among theimportant concepts that students learn in the course of engineering programs. Laboratoryassignments illustrating these techniques provide students with both learning opportunities andpractical experimental experience, encouraging both sustained student interest and retention.Virtual and remote-controlled experiments are originated from the attractive opportunity ofexploiting the Internet advantages to control instrumentation and hence conduct measurementprocesses from any location and at any time. Their attractiveness is enhanced also by thefinancial aspects involved in the development of laboratory activities (i.e. space, staff, etc.).This project provides for much more efficient sharing of expensive measurement equipment. Weare planning to develop a set of virtual and remote-controlled measurement experiments, such as:transducer electronic data sheet creation and testing, mechanical material characteristics,acceleration and speed measurements, temperature sensor characterization, etc. Students willconduct the experiments from any computer on their own schedule. In contrast to a traditionallab that requires multiple workstations to be placed in a physical space and attended by trainedstaff, newly developed “i-Lab” will provide the use of a workstation simultaneously to severalstudents. This enables students to gain laboratory experiences at a relatively low cost per user.Other important features of our remote and virtual lab are: availability, security, flexibility, andportability. Our planned i-Lab may be used on a wide variety of other courses with minimaladministrative cost to perform real measurements, sensor tests and calibrations. Two strategiesare used in our design and implementation: the use of proprietary languages like LabVIEW andMATLAB-Simulink and the use of standard programming languages. The success of this projectin an education research-oriented experimental facility will advance the state of art ofmeasurements, instrumentation, sensors and controls education by contributing to newexperimental concepts, algorithms, and simulations, by creating a motivating environment for theengineering practice, and by serving as models for similar educational developments. The “i-Lab” set-ups developed during this project are planned to be used in both ET undergraduate andgraduate courses. Moreover, the findings and lessons learned in this project can be used asmodels for the similar developments in other courses. The usefulness of this project is and willbe evaluated by direct observation and formative assessment, while the feedback from othereducators is highly appreciated.

Belu, R. G., & Ciobanescu Husanu, I. N. (2012, June), Development and Implementation of i-Laboratory for Instrumentation, Sensors, Measurements, and Controls Courses Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21205

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