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Hands-on Homework or Laboratory Development for Distance Learning Students in Programmable Logical Controller (PLC)

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Distance Learning in Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.660.1 - 24.660.12



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Paper Authors


Cheng Y. Lin P.E. Old Dominion University

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Dr. Lin is a Professor and Program Director of Mechanical Engineering Technology at Old Dominion University. He received his PhD of Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1989, and is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. Dr. Lin has expertise in automation control, machine design, CAD/CAM, CNC, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, and robotics. He has been active in the technology application research and teaching training courses for the local industries and technology application center.

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Yuzhong Shen Old Dominion University


Mileta Tomovic Old Dominion University

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Dr. Tomovic received BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Belgrade, MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Michigan. Dr. Tomovic is currently serving as Chair of Engineering Technology Department, F. Batten College of Engineering and Technology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. Prior to joining ODU Dr. Tomovic had seventeen years of teaching and applied research experience at Purdue University, with emphasis on manufacturing and product development. While at Purdue University, Dr. Tomovic held chaired position - W. C. Furnas Professor of Enterprise Excellence, he was also University Faculty Scholar, Director of Digital Enterprise Center, and Special Assistant to Dean for Advanced Manufacturing. He has co-authored one textbook on materials and manufacturing processes that has been adopted by over 50 national and international institutions of higher education. In addition, he has authored or co-authored over 90 papers in journals and conference proceedings, focused on applied research related to design and manufacturability issues, as well as issues related to mechanical engineering technology education. Dr. Tomovic made over 20 invited presentations nationally and internationally on the issues of design optimization and manufacturability. He has co-authored four patents, and over 100 technical reports on practical industrial problems related to product design and manufacturing process improvements. Dr. Tomovic is also serving as Honorary Visiting Professor at Beihang University, Beijing, China.

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Hands-on Homework or Laboratory Development for Distance Learning Students in Programmable Logical Controller (PLC)[Abstract]When teaching PLC classes in the distance-learning program, one of the mainproblems is how to provide hands-on experience to the students. This is becausestudents can only use simulation software to do their homework and lab problemswithout being able to touch PLCs or wire ladder logic diagrams. In this paper, theauthor develops several homework and laboratory problems to help distance-learning students gain their hands-on wiring experience in the MechanicalEngineering Technology Program.Figure 1 shows the Boolean equation of “OR” function Y = A + B. Firstly theinstructor uses the real equipment to demonstrate the wiring. Output results basedon the input condition (the Truth Table) are also given. Secondly the instructortakes the photo of the real equipment and saves it in the Microsoft Paint, as shownin Figure 2. Lines, which are equivalent to electrical cables, are drawn to showhow to really wire the ladder diagram, as shown in Figure 3. The red lines shownin the figure are equivalent to the +24-Volt electrical cables; the blue linesrepresent the cables connected to the ground. After several examples includingbasic logical functions and lab problems are given, students are asked to do theirhomework and laboratory problems using this virtual equipment. Also a “nodetagging” approach will be presented in the paper to help students wire the ladderdiagram effectively. The photo shown in Figure 3 looks almost exactly the same asthe wiring on the real equipment.When students submit their homework or laboratory problems to the instructor,they will have to include not only the ladder diagrams (as shown in Figure 1)and/or PLC programs, but also the wiring diagrams (as shown in Figure 3). Thewiring problems are also included in the tests and final exam. Results show thatthis wiring technique enhances off-campus students their hands-on experience asthe wiring is almost exactly the same as the real equipment.With the support from a University grant, a team is able to develop the softwarewhich can animate the results. As shown in Figure 4, the OR circuit is connectedand results are shown. The development significantly improves the wiringexperience for distance learning students. Figure 1: Ladder Diagram for the Boolean Equation: Y = A +B Figure 2: The Photo Image of the Real Equipment Figure 3: Wiring the Ladder Diagram Shown in Figure 1Figure 4: Wiring the OR Circuit Using Animation Software

Lin, C. Y., & Shen, Y., & Tomovic, M. (2014, June), Hands-on Homework or Laboratory Development for Distance Learning Students in Programmable Logical Controller (PLC) Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20551

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