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Integration Of Equation Solving Software With Data Acquisition Equipment For A Senior Engineering Measurements Course

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.254.1 - 2.254.16

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Paper Authors

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David L. Walters

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

Session 3225

Integration of Equation Solving Software with Data Acquisition Equipment for a Senior Engineering Measurements Course David L. Walters Mechanical Engineering Section United States Coast Guard Academy


The concomitant development of computer-based data acquisition systems, equation solving and spreadsheet software, and multimedia presentation software has provided engineering educators with a plethora of opportunities to positively and creatively impact course content, pedagogy, and student interest. This paper provides an account of a laboratory experience at the United States Coast Guard Academy,(USCGA) in utilizing National Instruments LabView data acquisition equipment, Excel and Mathcad analysis software, and Power Point presentational software in a Macintosh environment in the instruction of a senior level engineering measurement course.

The curriculum of the newly accredited Mechanical Engineering major at the USCGA not only emphasizes the design and open-ended problem solving elements necessary to an excellent engineering education, but seeks to augment the communications and leadership skills which the entire academy has embraced as desired outcomes. Experimental Methods in Fluid and Thermal Sciences is a senior level capstone experience in which the students receive classroom instruction in measurement systems and analysis techniques and apply these techniques in a three-hour weekly laboratory. Students typically work in laboratory groups of three and are required to design a measurement procedure and analysis plan. Students are encouraged to include a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of their approach in their weekly written reports. Finally, students research a problem of interest, design a measurement system, conduct the experiment and report their findings in oral and written form as their project requirement.

The integration of different software packages in the acquisition, analysis and presentation of data has multiple positive effects which address the USCGA needs. The instructor can model the data acquisition, analysis and presentation process, and more effectively integrate graphics, equations and physical demonstrations to reach diverse learning styles. The efficiency of data acquisition and analysis facilitates proper statistical treatment of the data, immediate review of data and experimental procedures, inclusion of a broader and more interesting choice of experiments, and the interaction with students in the role of guide and mentor.


The Experimental Methods in Fluid and Thermal Sciences (EMFTS) course is a senior level capstone experience for cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). The course is designed to provide the students with a combination of lecture and laboratory experiences covering the topics of data acquisition, statistical analysis, Fourier analysis, calibration, operation of transducers, and documentation and communication of results. This paper documents efforts to augment the EMFTS course through the design of supplemental lecture and laboratory materials and exercises.

Walters, D. L. (1997, June), Integration Of Equation Solving Software With Data Acquisition Equipment For A Senior Engineering Measurements Course Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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