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Dynamic System Animation Within A Simulink Laboratory Environment

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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

6.397.1 - 6.397.6

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Edwin Zivi

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Jenelle Piepmeier

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Session 2220

Dynamic System Animation Within a Simulink Laboratory Environment

Edwin Zivi, Jenelle Armstrong Piepmeier U.S. Naval Academy


Recent innovations in the animation of student developed, laboratory simulations have been found to significantly improve student understanding and enthusiasm. This animation can be implemented using Matlab s-functions that are typically called from a Simulink simulation. These rudimentary animations have been found to be relatively easy to construct and well received by students. General observations and recommendations are developed from specific examples, hints, and experiences. Runtime animation has been found to be a valuable complement to the existing capability to visually construct the simulation model. S-function animations have been found to be composed of two primary elements: reusable interface/initialization Aboilerplate@ and animation specific graphics. To date, animations have been developed solely as part of faculty course preparation. These animations have been found to efficiently leverage Matlab=s high level programming features to provide an effective teaching tool.

1. Introduction

Animation has become a valuable visualization tool for teaching computer simulation of dynamic systems. Engineering education literature is replete with animation examples utilizing various programming environments for a variety of physical systems 1,2,3,4. Although numerous, most of these papers are very discipline-specific. Equally bewildering is the choice of animation software which ranges from freely distributed packages such as Ansim5 to sophisticated commercial packages such as Altia Design6. The authors have found that simple animations using Matlab s−functions are a very practical and effective method for assisting and motivating student Simulink laboratory projects. This paper provides a simplified procedure for constructing s−function animations and presents a number of examples.

2. Background

The s−function animations, described herein, were supplied to third year System Engineering students at the U.S. Naval Academy. Each animation involves a single Simulink animation block that calls a single animation s−function. The Simulink animation block serves as the interface between the student’s Simulink model and the animation. The Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Zivi, E., & Piepmeier, J. (2001, June), Dynamic System Animation Within A Simulink Laboratory Environment Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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