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Haptic Interfaces For A Labview Based System Dynamics Course

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.680.1 - 11.680.15



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Paper Authors


Kevin Bowen Rice University

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Kevin Bowen received the B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Rice University in 2004, and is currently pursuing an M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering at Rice. His current projects include the use of haptic feedback for rehabilitation in virtual environments, the development of haptic paddle kits for instruction of undergraduate engineering concepts, and the implementation of embedded microcontrollers for the control of haptic systems.

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Marcia O'Malley William Marsh Rice University

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

Haptic Interfaces for a LabVIEW-based System Dynamics Course Abstract

Too often in undergraduate mechanical engineering courses, the content of laboratory exercises is not well coordinated with course content, and the exercises are unrelated to each other. As a result, students have a difficult time grasping the “big picture” themes. This project at Rice University seeks to improve the effectiveness of laboratory exercises in a required undergraduate mechanical engineering system dynamics course via student-centered learning and laboratory topics featuring haptic paddles, devices that allow users to interact via the sense of touch with virtual environments. One outcome of these improvements is a cohesive set of laboratory experiments using the haptic paddles as a single experimental test bed for multiple experiments. The Haptic Paddle exercises are unique because they allow the students to analyze and build their own haptic interface, or force-reflecting system. The students are able to see many subsets of mechanical engineering come together in a series of exercises, including assembly, system analysis, calibration, system modeling, and dynamics. Finally, a key advantage to the haptic paddle labs is that they tie closely with the course material.

This paper describes the development of haptic paddle laboratory kits and associated National Instruments LabVIEW virtual instrumentation to support the adaptation of laboratory experiments for a required undergraduate system dynamics course at Rice University. The laboratory experiments use simple haptic interfaces, devices that allow the students to interact via the sense of touch with virtual environments. A clear benefit of this laboratory series is that students study the haptic paddle as a real electromechanical system in addition to using the haptic paddle as a tool to interact with virtual mechanical systems. The haptic paddle hardware has been modified to improve robustness, and the LabVIEW graphical programming language is used for data acquisition and control throughout the laboratory series. The paper will present some details of the laboratory components, and preliminary assessment of learning outcomes using this laboratory series compared to more traditional modular labs used in prior years.

1. Introduction

This paper describes the adaptation of the haptic paddle laboratory series to a dynamic systems course at Rice University. The primary changes include revised hardware to improve robustness, and the use of National Instruments hardware and software for computer control of the electromechanical devices. Slight revisions to the laboratory exercise content have also been made to match the content of this particular course.

Integrated systems, such as the haptic paddle, introduce students to more realistic multi-domain systems, rather than addressing each domain (mechanical, electrical, fluid) separately. These multi-sensory (visual, haptic) labs are closely tied to course concepts and feature embedded assessment. This is a unique aspect of Rice’s course, MECH 343 (Modeling Dynamic Systems), compared to similar courses, both within Rice’s curriculum and at other institutions.

Bowen, K., & O'Malley, M. (2006, June), Haptic Interfaces For A Labview Based System Dynamics Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1439

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