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Incorporating Software Simulation into Electric Circuit Experiments

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2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting


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Publication Date

November 12, 2021

Start Date

November 12, 2021

End Date

November 13, 2021

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Rafic Bachnak P.E. Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, The Capital College

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Rafic Bachnak is Professor of Electrical Engineering at Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg. Previously, Dr. Bachnak was on the faculty of Texas A&M International University, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Northwestern State University, and Franklin University. Dr. Bachnak received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Ohio University. His experience includes several fellowships with NASA and the US Navy Laboratories and employment with Koch Industries. Dr. Bachnak is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas, a senior member of IEEE and ISA, and a member of ASEE.

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A report by the United Nations estimates that closures of schools and other learning spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacted 94% of the world’s student population in 2020. At xxxxx University, most courses during the 2020-2021 academic year were offered remotely while some included a mixed-mode delivery mode when appropriate. In laboratory courses, however, a combination of in-person and online experimentation was a reasonable option. While simulation exercises are helpful in the learning experience, there is no doubt that hands-on experimentation is crucial to the learning process and simulation cannot be a substitution for the experience of building and troubleshooting a circuit on a breadboard. In Circuits and Devices, a sophomore electrical engineering course, a number of laboratory experiments were revised to accommodate students’ needs while ensuring that a reasonable level of hands-on experience with electrical components and basic laboratory equipment such as power supplies, multimeters, still takes place. To accomplish this objective, the laboratory portion of the course included three hands-on experiments that students completed on campus, six experiments that involved design and analysis followed by software simulation, and a final project with an oral presentation. Some final projects included hardware and software while a few relied only on design and software simulation. This paper will briefly describe the experiments and provide details about an experiment that uses Multisim, a National Instruments Software package, and employs the Thevenin equivalent theorem to the analysis of a circuit with a dependent source. While there were several challenges, overall students were able to perform the experiments and successfully complete a final project. One positive outcome of this experience is the integration of Multisim in several experiments in a very meaningful way. As we prepare to teach the course in-person this coming fall, we expect to continue using Multisim but with some additional improvements. Most experiments this time will include two phases: (1) Students will complete a pre-lab that involves two steps, theoretical analysis and software simulation, and 2) Hands-on experimentation by building and testing the circuit in the laboratory.

Bachnak, R. (2021, November), Incorporating Software Simulation into Electric Circuit Experiments Paper presented at 2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting, Virtually Hosted by the section.

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