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Graphical Analysis Applications In An Electrical Engineering Technology Laboratory

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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

3.304.1 - 3.304.7

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William F. Reeve

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

Session 1547

Graphical Analysis Applications in an Electrical Engineering Technology Laboratory

William F. Reeve Purdue University

Abstract Troubleshooting frequently focuses on the process of developing a systematic logical approach to the identification and solution of a problem. Identifying the problem, devising a hypothesis for its cause, postulating a test strategy that will identify the source of the fault, implementing tests to confirm the fault, and correcting the fault are some of the steps in this process. This paper describes the use of graphical analysis techniques that take the student beyond the point of fixing the immediate problem on a single unit to asking questions about the underlying causes for failures when several units are involved and proposing solutions that will prevent their recurrence.

Introduction A learning tool called ALFRED (Amplitude Linear Frequency Related Educational Device) was developed in the mid 1980’s by the faculty and staff of the Electrical Engineering Technology Department of Purdue University to provide students in a sophomore-level course “with hands-on experience in electronic troubleshooting from the system level to the component level.”1-3 It is essentially a one octave music synthesizer that has served as a useful tool to teach troubleshooting for more than a decade. A supplementary board that monitors “six inputs—two thermometer calibration voltages, three single ended DC voltages, and one temperature dependent differential voltage—and displays them one at a time on a three and one-half digit display” was introduced by Aubrey and Brelage in 1995.4 It functions as a temperature and voltage monitor for the rest of ALFRED. Hundreds of students have developed their troubleshooting skills to the point where they are able to locate and repair multiple faults at the component level in a complex electronic system.

In an effort to address problems associated with the manufacturing environment, lectures on graphical analysis techniques, such as flowcharts, check sheets, run charts, Pareto charts, cause & effect (fishbone) diagrams, histograms, etc.5, were added to the troubleshooting course (EET 276) in 1997. They provide methods of data analysis that relate to the solution of production problems where issues of reliability and quality control are concerned.

Student Involvement A homework assignment is given in which the student uses a check sheet to tabulate the results of various test procedures conducted at different locations on several units of a fictitious electronic system. One is required to enter the data in a spreadsheet, construct histograms that show the frequency of each of the tests for several locations, analyze the results, determine what faults are present, and decide how significant they are. During a laboratory session, students analyze several ALFRED fault sheets to identify types of faults, how often they occur, on which board(s) they occur, and draw conclusions about possible causes for the failures.

Reeve, W. F. (1998, June), Graphical Analysis Applications In An Electrical Engineering Technology Laboratory Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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