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Integration of National Instruments Multisim and Mathsoft Mathcad into a Digital Communication Technology Curriculum

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

ETD Design I

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.820.1 - 25.820.16



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Paper Authors


David Border Bowling Green State University

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David A. Border, Ph.D., has a principle interest in electronic information systems. This field includes digital communication and networking and intelligent networked devices. Current work includes wireless sensor networks. Prior research included work on signal bandwidth compression and signal specific data encoding techniques. Technology application interest includes networked systems. Typical teaching duties include junior and senior-level courses in the Electronics and Computer Technology (ECT) Program. Within this course set are the curriculum’s networking and communication courses. As is true with his ECT faculty colleagues, Border supports the program with teaching assignments, as needed, in freshman and sophomore-level courses offerings. Examples of these include the sophomore level electric circuits and digital electronics courses. Border teaches a digital communication graduate course within the Ph.D. Consortium Technology Management Program, as well as other graduate-level courses at BGSU.

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Integration of National Instruments Multisim and Mathsoft Mathcad into a Digital Communication Technology Curriculum Professor David Border, Ph.D., Bowling Green State University, member ASEE AbstractTechnology program texts that seek to teach digital communication fundamentals followbasic developments that can be modeled in laboratory classes using computer-basedelectronics laboratory simulators and computer-based symbolic mathematics systems.For technology programs this is particularly important as the laboratory work reinforcesfoundational data communication time domain and frequency domain concepts that maynot be readily observed from lecture-only courses. Further, these labs allow students tovalidate concepts seen in lecture, homework and reading assignments. Additionally,these labs allow students to use digital devices found in earlier course work, such asdigital logic. Finally, these labs are meant to complement lectures and not meant toreplace laboratory experiments involving actual laboratory digital communicationhardware. It is acknowledged that the presence of hardware in laboratory is vital to themission of technology education.National Instruments Multisim is the chosen electronics laboratory simulator for thiswork. Of special interest in the design of the labs are Multisim's high order capabilities.These allow students to create system level solutions within the setting of a two hour orthree hour time period. Mathsoft's Mathcad is the chosen computer-based symbolicmathematics system. Of value to the lab setting, Mathcad is user-friendly and allows theuser to setup and complete work within a short time. It preserves the mathematicalcontext of the user's work through its rich symbolic-graphics capabilities. Theseadvantages of Multisim and Mathcad use are discussed in the paper. Finally, it is shownthat both Multisim and Mathcad, through print functions and screen captures allow thestudent to produce notes and illustrations that will complement their notes from lecturesand their textbook contents (aside from actual lab report generation).This paper will detail the laboratory solutions that have been developed to address suchtopics as: signal representation in the time and frequency domain, effects of noise andattenuation on digital signals, channel capacity and bandwidth, spectral and powerefficiencies, bit error rate and power efficiency, digital encodings and their time domainand frequency domain characteristics, analog encodings of digital data, analog-to-digitalconversion and quantization effects and remedies, and spread spectrum encoding-decoding techniques. The solutions will be framed within the context of illustratingfundamental digital communication principles by use of Multisim and Mathcad. Featuresand tools of Multisim and Mathcad that are particularly helpful to students will bediscussed on an individual and collective lab basis.

Border, D. (2012, June), Integration of National Instruments Multisim and Mathsoft Mathcad into a Digital Communication Technology Curriculum Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21577

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