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Enhancement Of Freshman Engineering Laboratory Through Remote Web Based Experiments

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.258.1 - 3.258.7



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Paper Authors

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Robin Carr

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Andrew Gregorowicz

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Adam O'Donnell

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Robert Quinn

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

Session 3659

Enhancement of Freshman Engineering Laboratory through Remote Web-based Experiments Robin Carr, Andrew Gregorowicz, Adam O'Donnell and Robert Quinn Drexel University

Introduction - Three remote web-based engineering laboratories were developed and implemented on a large scale - approximately 500 freshman engineering students participated. Before performing the remote labs, students become proficient in the use of a general purpose engineering workstation which includes a precision DMM, function generator, high-speed storage oscilloscope, frequency counter, multiplexer/switching unit, and a precision power supply all interfaced to a controlling computer via GPIB2. A fundamental feature is that each engineering workstation be accessible and controllable over the internet using only a generic browser. This strategy has three important benefits. First, since the entire workstation is internet- accessible, an arbitrary number of new remote experiments can be designed just by creating new web pages and connecting the appropriate parts and components to each workstation. Second, students and remote viewers only need a generic browser and an internet connection to fully participate in the remote laboratories. Third, the experiments can be performed on any computer platform. As a result, the Freshman Engineering lab is transformed into an "Engineering Collaboratory" in which multiple remote users can access and perform a myriad of experiments on state-of the art engineering workstations.

The three remote labs explore different extremes of the kind of access to the workstation required by the remote user. In all cases, students had a prior 3 hour hands-on laboratory introducing the 1, 2 basic skills and new elements involved. In the first remote lab “Control of a Model Heating System”, students explore how Joule heating effects the temperature of a heating element and how effective different control schemes are at achieving a target temperature. Performing the lab changes the properties (temperature) of the experimental apparatus, so each remote user needs exclusive access to the workstation for a finite period of time - one hour.

In the second remote lab, students explore the response characteristics of an operational amplifier circuit and try to identify a mystery element X placed in its feedback loop. Here multiple users can access the workstation at the same time since the data collection requires only a few seconds for each response curve. Multiple remote requests are processed on a first-in first- out basis enabling asynchronous experimentation. Students can do the remote lab whenever and wherever they want.

In the third web-based experiment remote users communicate with and monitor the ECG signals of volunteers in the engineering lab. Here, only one volunteer is at each workstation, but multiple remote users can monitor the same person and ask the volunteer to perform different tasks such as “Please do 10 push-ups.” Because of demands placed on the volunteers, the remote users have to be grouped and assigned various time windows when they may perform the lab.

Carr, R., & Gregorowicz, A., & O'Donnell, A., & Quinn, R. (1998, June), Enhancement Of Freshman Engineering Laboratory Through Remote Web Based Experiments Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7100

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