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Experience and Reflection on an Industry-College Partnership to Develop a New Instrumentation and Measurement Laboratory Course

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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

Instrumentation Division Technical Session 3

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Paper Authors


Bob Brennan University of Calgary

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Robert W. Brennan has been actively involved in a wide range of national and international design education initiatives over the past 12 years. He has served on the Canadian Design Engineering Network (CDEN) steering committee, chaired the organizing committee for the second CDEN conference (2004), chaired the Schulich School of Engineering's first Engineering Education Summit (2007), served as an organizing committee member for the CIRP International Design Seminar (2006), and is the current American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) campus representative for the University of Calgary. Dr. Brennan also served as one of the founding members of the Engineering Graduate Attributes Development (EGAD) group, and has been an active participant and contributor to both Canadian and international engineering education conferences since 2001. He has published papers in Learning and Individual Differences, the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, the International Journal of Quality Assurance in Engineering and Technology Education, and Advances in Engineering Education; and has published over 30 conference papers in national and international engineering education conferences. These papers are the result of his collaborations with colleagues from the Schulich School of Engineering and the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary, as well as colleagues from the University of British Colombia, the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Manitoba.

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Simon Li P.Eng. University of Calgary

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Dr. Li has been involved in design and multidisciplinary education since 2005 in three Canadian universities. In the University of New Brunswick, Dr. Li has helped the establishment of the new design course for all first-year engineering students and also developed a new design course for final-year mechanical engineering students. In Concordia University, he has offered courses in Quality and Systems Engineering for graduate students with different engineering backgrounds. In University of Calgary, Dr. Li is one instructor of the final-year design course and offers a new technical elective “Design for Sustainability”. Currently, he is the capstone design instructor in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

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In this paper, we describe an industry-college partnership to develop a new, interdisciplinary instrumentation and measurement laboratory course to support engineering design teaching and research. The laboratory is intended to provide a “space to create” where students will develop skills to solve complex, multi-disciplinary problems using collaborative approaches via a series of laboratory exercises that emphasize design engineering, leadership, communications, innovation, critical thinking and teamwork. As part of this initiative, the authors are developing a new, multidisciplinary “instrumentation and measurement systems” course for third-year chemical, electrical, energy, mechanical, oil & gas, and software engineering students. The objective of this course is to provide students with the basic tools used by industry to gather and process information about physical systems. Students will learn, through lectures, demonstrations, in-class discussions, and hands-on laboratories, the importance of real-time measurement and data analysis for the design, operation, and health of industrial equipment. The course introduces a variety of measuring and actuation techniques that are used in real industrial settings with a focus on the integration of sensors, valves, and actuators to monitor and maintain equipment health. Typical properties measured in energy systems will be addressed such as pressure, temperature, flow, level, and liquid and gas analytical. As well, students will be exposed to control valve technology such as control valve types (rotary, sliding stem, solenoids), actuation and control technology, and valve instrumentation. A large portion of the course work involves hands-on laboratory experiences, where students are required to design and implement complete measurement systems. The goal of the course is to provide sufficient background so that students will be comfortable designing measurement systems for use in industrial applications. All laboratory exercises will be centered on a fully instrumented process control apparatus (e.g., 3-phase separator system) and distributed control system, and will be divided into two components: (a) a series of three laboratory exercises where students will be introduced to the fundamentals of instrumentation systems; and (b) a series of four laboratory exercises where students will work through a series of design exercises that will culminate in a full instrumentation and control system design. From the perspective of design and development, the Instrumentation and Measurements Laboratory will serve as a test-bed facility for the new and improved design methodologies and approaches to enhance the design of sensing and control systems for the energy industry. We anticipate that these design engineering research projects will be a combination of graduate student projects performed outside the instrumentation and measurement systems course class times, and undergraduate student design projects that will be integrated into the latter series of laboratory exercises in the instrumentation and measurement systems course as well as an interdisciplinary capstone design course that is currently being offered by the co-authors.

Brennan, B., & Li, S. (2016, June), Experience and Reflection on an Industry-College Partnership to Develop a New Instrumentation and Measurement Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26807

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