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Inexpensive Hands-On Activities in Solid State Lighting

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Labs & Hands-on Instruction I

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Kathleen Meehan Virginia Tech

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Kathleen Meehan earned her B.S. in electrical engineering from Manhattan College and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois under the supervision of Prof. Nick Holonyak, Jr. She worked as a member of technical staff at Lytel, Inc., following graduation. At Polaroid, she was appointed a Senior Research Group Leader, responsible for the design of laser diodes and arrays. After leaving Polaroid, she was employed at Biocontrol Technology. She moved into academia full-time in 1997 and worked at the University of Denver, West Virginia University, and Virginia Tech. She is currently the director of the University of Glasgow-University of Electronic Science and Technology of China Electronics and Electrical Engineering programme. While at Virginia Tech, she collaborated with Dr. Robert W. Hendricks, with assistance of a number of undergraduate students, to develop an instructional platform known as Lab-in-a-Box, which is used in a number of courses within the Virginia Tech B.S.E.E. program. She continues to be actively involved in the development of mobile hands-on pedagogy as well as research on other topics in STEM education, the synthesis and characterization of nanoscale optical materials, and fermentation processes.

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Andrew Phillips The University of Glasgow

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Hands-on activities were developed as part of an overseas immersion programme (OIP) run by the School of Engineering at the University of XXXX. The two-week OIP was a combination of academic and cultural experiences where the academic experience was a 10 credit course on solid state lighting. The course was taught for the first time in Summer 2015 to a cohort of 32 Year 1 and Year 2 students in the undergraduate electronics and electrical engineering programmes offered at the YYYY and the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. Both institutions of higher learning are located in Chengdu, China. The students were Chinese nationals who were in the process of building their knowledge of technical English.

The students’ conceptual knowledge about this field prior to the OIP was limited. Students knew the application of piecewise models and load line analysis to determine diode currents and voltages in circuits, including power electronic circuits. In a number of laboratory exercises and design projects during the previous academic year, the students had made use of visible light-emitting diodes (LEDs), although none of these were white light LEDs. Furthermore, most of the students had some experience with the microprocessor platform that they were asked to employ in the design project. However, students were unfamiliar with many of the topics related to the design of solid state lighting products such as the spectral and frequency response of the human eye. The goals of the laboratory component integrated into the academic experience were to provide students with opportunities to explore some of the device parameters and the response of humans to light and use the knowledge that they gained from these hands-on activities as well as material from lectures and industrial visits in a short design project.

Three experiments were conducted by the students during the first week of the OIP. These experiments allowed students to explore the far-field angle of lensed and unlensed light-emitting diodes (LEDs), the spectral content of single colour and white light LEDs using an inexpensive spectroscope, to construct a white light source using three single colour LEDs, and to observe the frequency response to white light LEDs powered by a variable duty cycle/variable frequency square wave generator. During the second week of the OIP, students designed and constructed a wearable circuit using various optoelectronic and electronic components and an mbed microprocessor, which they demonstrated during a fashion show on the last day of the OIP.

A description of the experiments, including a detailed bill of materials and the laboratory procedures, and the cost per student, will be provided as well as the details of the design project. The results of the assessment of student learning and the student evaluation of instruction, a summary of best practices, and recommendations for improvements will be presented.

Meehan, K., & Phillips, A. (2016, June), Inexpensive Hands-On Activities in Solid State Lighting Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25685

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