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Introducing Dataflow Programming In A Freshman Engineering Course With Applications In Sustainability Education

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Enhancing CE Learning Through Use of Technology

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.799.1 - 15.799.17



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Paper Authors


Parhum Delgoshaei Virginia Tech

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PARHUM DELGOSHAEI is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He
holds an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Western Michigan University. His PhD research
involves developing real-time remote monitoring systems and their application in enhancing
sustainability education.

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Vinod Lohani Virginia Tech

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Vinod K Lohani is an associate professor in the Engineering Education Department and an
adjunct faculty in the Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. He received a PhD
in civil engineering from Virginia Tech in 1995. His research interests are in the areas of
knowledge modeling, water and energy sustainability, engineering learning modules for
freshmen, and international collaboration. He leads a major curriculum reform project (2004-09),
funded under the department-level reform program of the NSF, at Virginia Tech. A spiral
curriculum approach is adopted to reformulate engineering curriculum in bioprocess engineering
in this project. He co-authored an award winning paper with his PhD student at the 2007 annual
conference of ASEE. He received the College of Engineering Faculty Fellow award in 2008.

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Chelsea Green Virginia Tech

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Chelsea Green is a graduate student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at
Virginia Tech. She worked with LEWAS project investigators as an undergraduate researcher in
fall '08 and spring '09 and as a graduate student in fall '09 and spring '10.

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

Introducing Dataflow Programming in a Freshman Engineering Course with Applications in Sustainability Education


This paper discusses the gradual integration of LabVIEW, a dataflow programming language, into a freshman engineering course, data acquisition activities designed to utilize LabVIEW programming and the status of development of a LabVIEW Enabled Watershed Assessment System (LEWAS). This system is capable of monitoring water data in a real-time from an impaired stream that flows through the campus of Virginia Tech. These data have potential to develop classroom exercises targeted at promoting awareness of environmental sustainability among engineering freshmen.

LEWAS has been successfully expanded from the desktop version and is programmed to enable real-time monitoring using an embedded computer that is field deployable with less power consumption and more reliability compared to the desktop version. Student attitudinal responses on using LabVIEW to teach programming constructs and collect environmental data are analyzed and discussed.


In 2004, a group of engineering and education faculty at Virginia Tech received a major curriculum reform and engineering education research grant under the department-level reform (DLR) program of the NSF1. A number of hands-on activities were developed and implemented in the freshman engineering program as a result of the DLR project2,3, 4. Engineering Exploration (EngE1024), a freshman engineering course required of all engineering undergraduates, is the most affected course by the DLR project in the general engineering (also called freshman engineering) program. This course primarily focuses on hands-on design, problem solving, professional ethics and skills, and critical thinking skills5. This course is taken by approximately 1700 freshmen every year. It is comprised of lecture and workshop sessions. One of the learning objectives of this course is that after successful completion the students should be able to develop and implement algorithms and demonstrate understanding of basic programming concepts. The instructors used FORTRAN in late 90s which was replaced byMATLAB in the beginning of this decade. Beginning in Fall ’04, MATLAB was replaced by Alice programming language. The authors have discussed their programming experiences with Alice in6. In Spring ’07, Alice was replaced by LabVIEW programming. The dataflow programming paradigm supported by LabVIEW is suitable for many engineering applications and can be extended for collection, processing and communication of environmental data which in turn can be used to

Delgoshaei, P., & Lohani, V., & Green, C. (2010, June), Introducing Dataflow Programming In A Freshman Engineering Course With Applications In Sustainability Education Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16929

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