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Development of a Programmable Logic Controller Training Unit for Engineering Technology Curriculum

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Circuits and Systems Education 2

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.526.1 - 26.526.10



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Paper Authors


Nathan Davis Central Washington University

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Nathan Davis is an Assistant Professor of Electronic Engineering Technology at Central Washington University. He worked as a Field Service Engineer for seven years before completing his Master's degree in 2006. He is currently pursuing his graduate studies at the University of Idaho in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in Power Systems. His research interests include engineering education and power system studies.

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Charles Pringle Central Washington University

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Charles Pringle is a professor in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program at Central Washington University. Charles teaches upper division courses including the senior capstone course.

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Lad Holden Central Washington University


Michael L. Whelan Department of Engineering Technologies, Safety, and Construction, Central Washington University

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Received B.S.C.E. (1970) and M.S. (1971) degrees from the University of New Mexico followed by a Ph.D. (1981) from Iowa State University. Has held faculty and administrative positions in several universities, a visiting researcher position in a governmental laboratory, and a variety of engineering positions in industry during the period 1971 to the present. Currently employed as an Associate Professor of Construction Management at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA.

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Development of a Programmable Logic Controller Training Unit for Engineering Technology CurriculumBackground: Central Washington University offers an undergraduate course in Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC). Until recently, the department relied on out of date, rack mounted PLC equipment to support this class. While this allowed the students to develop PLC based projects, it did not provide the students experience with current technology. For that reason, the department, in particular, the Electronics Engineering Technology program, which supports the class, developed a set of PLC training units utilizing the Allen-Bradley CompactLogix L30ER processor.Purpose: This paper presents an overview of the development cycle of the programmable logic controller (PLC) training units created to support the undergraduate engineering technology programs. It provides a comparative analysis of the previous and updated training units, design considerations, and an overview of the development of the lab sequence and curriculum for the course.Scope/Method: This paper provides a summary of the development cycle of the PLC unit and the curriculum and labs used in the course. In addition, it presents evidence in the form of student feedback from course evaluations that the student experience in the course improved as a result these improvements. This paper does not provide vendor or pricing information for components used to develop the units.Conclusions: The course evaluations are used to conclude that the updated PLC units have improved the student experience in the class. Analysis of three primary metrics from the course evaluations will be used to form this conclusion.

Davis, N., & Pringle, C., & Holden, L., & Whelan, M. L. (2015, June), Development of a Programmable Logic Controller Training Unit for Engineering Technology Curriculum Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23865

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