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Hands on Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) Laboratory for an Industrial Controls Course

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Hardware Applications

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.765.1 - 22.765.12



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Paper Authors


Steven F. Barrett University of Wyoming

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Steven F. Barrett, Ph.D., P.E. received the B.S. Electronic Engineering Technology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1979, the M.E.E.E. from the University of Idaho at Moscow in 1986, and the Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 1993. He was formally an active duty faculty member at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado and is now the Associate Dean of Academic Programs, College of Engineering & Applied Science, University of Wyoming. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE (senior), and Tau Beta Pi (chief faculty advisor). His research interests include digital and analog image processing, computer-assisted laser surgery, and embedded controller systems. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Wyoming and Colorado. He co-wrote with Dr. Daniel Pack seven textbooks on microcontrollers and embedded systems. In 2004, Barrett was named “Wyoming Professor of the Year” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and in 2008 was the recipient of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Professional Engineers in Higher Education, Engineering Education Excellence Award.

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Amos L. Purdy


Cameron H. G. Wright P.E. University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Cameron H. G. Wright, Ph.D, P.E., is an Associate Professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY. He was previously Professor and Deputy Department Head in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the United States Air Force Academy, and served as an R&D engineering officer in the U.S. Air Force for over 20 years. He received the B.S.E.E. (summa cum laude) from Louisiana Tech University in 1983, the M.S.E.E. from Purdue University in 1988, and the Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996. Cam's research interests include signal and image processing, real-time embedded computer systems, biomedical instrumentation, and engineering education. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE, SPIE, BMES, NSPE, Tau Beta Pi, and Eta Kappa Nu. His teaching awards include the Tau Beta Pi WY-A Undergraduate Teaching Award (2011), the IEEE Student Branch's Outstanding Professor of the Year (2005 and 2008), the Mortar Board "Top Prof" award (2005 and 2007), the Outstanding Teaching Award from the ASEE Rocky Mountain Section (2007), and the Brigadier General R. E. Thomas Award for outstanding contribution to cadet education (both 1992 and 1993) at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Cam currently serves as Associate Department Head, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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Hands on Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) Laboratory for an Industrial Controls CourseThe instruction of industrial controls employing programmable logic controllers (PLCs) is vitalfor many industries including manufacturing, mining, and production. PLCs are self-containedindustrial grade microcontrollers with user-friendly input and output buffering. They aretypically programmed using a visual ladder logic based language.In response to requests from our constituents, we implemented an industrial control course basedon both PLC and microcontroller technology. In developing the course, a graduate studentworked closely with an industrial control company to develop a series of practical, hands onlaboratory exercises to educate students on the fundamentals of PLC application design andimplementation. In conjunction with development of laboratory courseware, an IndustrialControl Laboratory was developed and equipped with state-of-the-art PLC and controlinstrumentation and test equipment.This paper discusses the development and content of the laboratory exercises and physicallaboratory. We have now taught this course twice and have gathered student perceptions on thequality and utility of the Industrial Control course. Students have requested additional emphasisin this area. We conclude the paper with plans for future course enhancements.

Barrett, S. F., & Purdy, A. L., & Wright, C. H. G. (2011, June), Hands on Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) Laboratory for an Industrial Controls Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18046

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