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Development Of Pneumatics Based Fluid Power Laboratory Exercises

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.379.1 - 6.379.9

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Jeffrey Newcomer

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3548

Development of Pneumatics-Based Fluid Power Laboratory Exercises Jeffrey L. Newcomer, Ph.D. Engineering Technology Department Western Washington University Bellingham, WA 98225-9086


This paper describes four pneumatic laboratories used in a Fluid Power class in the Engineering Technology Department at Western Washington University. These laboratories introduce students to the fundamentals of pneumatic components and control of pneumatic circuits, as well as to some commonly used circuits. The laboratory exercises are simple to create and relatively inexpensive, and they have a high return in terms of student learning.


Fluid Power courses need a meaningful laboratory component to guarantee that students complete the class with the practical knowledge that cannot be garnered from textbook photos or lecture overheads. Most commercially available fluid power modules are hydraulic. These are expensive and have the potential to make a tremendous mess. Other options include software simulations and fluid mechanics experiments. While these are all valuable, they do not provide real ‘hands-on’ experience. The Engineering Technology Department at Western Washington University (WWU) teaches a Fluid Power class for students in Manufacturing Engineering Technology and Plastics Engineering Technology in their junior year. Four pneumatic-based laboratory exercises have been developed to give students real experience using real components. The first laboratory exercise is an introduction to basic pneumatic components, pilot control of pneumatic circuits, and two-handed safety circuits. The second laboratory exercise is an introduction to solenoid valves and sequence circuits. The third laboratory exercise is an introduction to PLC control of a pneumatic circuit. The fourth laboratory exercise is an introduction to control of a fluid power circuit using a microcontroller. In these four exercises students are introduced to some of the most fundamental concepts in fluid power and control of fluid power circuits, and they gain experience working with real components on real systems. Assessment has shown that this laboratory both gives students real experience with pneumatic circuits and components and increases their comprehension of fluid power concepts. This paper describes each laboratory exercise, including the components required to create similar laboratory exercises.

Fluid Power Course

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Newcomer, J. (2001, June), Development Of Pneumatics Based Fluid Power Laboratory Exercises Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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