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Development of a Low-cost, Two-Degree-of-Freedom Spring-Cart System and System Identification Exercises for Dynamic Modeling

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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

Active Learning & Laboratories in Statics, Dynamics, and Mechanics

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Paper Authors


Benjamin David McPheron Roger Williams University

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Benjamin D. McPheron, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Roger Williams University. Dr. McPheron received his B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering at Ohio Northern University in 2010, and his Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Department of Electrical Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University in 2014. Dr. McPheron teaches Freshman Engineering and various courses in Electrical Engineering including Circuit Theory, Signals and Systems, Electromagnetic Theory, Digital Signal Processing, and Dynamic Modeling and Control. His research interests include Engineering Education, Robotics, Applied Digital Control, and Signal Processing.

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Joseph D Legris Roger Williams University School of Engineering, Computing and Construction Management

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I am a fourth year undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I have experience in Matlab, SolidWorks, C+ language, and all Microsoft office applications. I have spent my career thus far involved in autonomous robotics design, dynamic modelling,and material studies. I am currently part of a bio medical design team entering the VentureWell design competition.

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Charles Flynn


Aidan James Bradley Roger Williams University

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Sophomore, studying electrical engineering with an interest in marine biology.

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Ethan Thomas Daniels Roger Williams University

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Undergraduate Engineering Student at Roger Williams University pursuing a specialization in Electrical Engineering.

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Laboratory experiences provide undergraduate engineering students with knowledge that comes primarily from hands-on activity. Some universities may lack necessary funds to utilize some of the equipment used in engineering education; so low-cost alternatives can be constructed. Low- cost laboratory experiences should be designed according to the following requirements: they should provide a framework to assess the achievement of associated learning outcomes, they should provide a visual demonstration of theoretical information, they should be user friendly, and they should provide consistent results. This paper details the construction of a low-cost spring mass damper apparatus and laboratory exercise, for system identification in a dynamic modeling or vibrations course. This paper also describes the methods used for system identification, an assessment framework, and information for accessing the project materials via the author’s website and videos on YouTube. The results of an initial test of this laboratory experience with a small student population demonstrate the effectiveness of the lab materials and apparatus in facilitating student learning.

McPheron, B. D., & Legris, J. D., & Flynn, C., & Bradley, A. J., & Daniels, E. T. (2016, June), Development of a Low-cost, Two-Degree-of-Freedom Spring-Cart System and System Identification Exercises for Dynamic Modeling Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26802

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