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Laboratory Instruction and Delivery of a Pilot IoT Course

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2021 ASEE North Central Section Conference


University of Toledo, Ohio

Publication Date

March 19, 2021

Start Date

March 19, 2021

End Date

March 20, 2021

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Steven T Rowland

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Michael William Eckels


Ramakrishnan Sundaram Gannon University

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Dr. Sundaram is a Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Gannon University. His areas of research include computational architectures for signal and image processing as well as novel methods to improve/enhance engineering education pedagogy.

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This paper discusses the laboratory setup and delivery of a pilot course on the fundamentals of Internet of Things (IoT). Hands-on laboratory experiments and project-based experiences are adopted to introduce and reinforce IoT-related concepts. The laboratory experiments introduced the students to the collection of data using temperature and motion sensors, software programs for the microcontroller, and wireless communication between WiFi-enabled modules. The students observed and recorded the outcomes on personal computers and mobile devices. Rather than use the hardware and software tools from an established vendor in the areas of IoT, we chose to design and assemble our own laboratory experiments and projects with simple, cost-effective, off-the-shelf components. The project activities focused on system design and integration based on the distinct laboratory experiences.

The students are expected to possess basic knowledge of electrical circuits and electronics, as well as programming skills in the higher level languages such as C/C++. Each laboratory experiment is documented with clear objectives, background, laboratory procedures, study questions, and the equipment list. Specifically, the laboratory activities in this course are based on the Arduino micro-controller which is transformed into a server/client node capable of detecting various parameters from the environment. Some activities utilized the ESP8266 WiFi module in place of the Arduino board.

The introductory laboratory experiment engages the student with the Arduino microcontroller and IDE. Students program the microcontroller to communicate with two temperature sensors, one digital, the other analog. This introduces the idea behind configuring the laboratory setup to read data from sensors locally and record the outcomes based on simple programming steps. Subsequent laboratory experiments (a) involve wireless modules, a node to broadcast the state of the sensor and a client to request the state (Router and AP) (b) data communication from the node which will broadcast raw motion data to the client which will request the recent data packets (c) bluetooth streaming over UART from one node to the other (d) develop the integration of sensors and other devices into one "Base station". The base station is setup to receive interrupt driven data from all wireless sensor stations (e) use the "Base station" with an ESP8266 WiFi module to transmit data to the cloud.

One of the term projects required the students to use the collective knowledge of the laboratory experiments outlined above to create an IoT-based detection system. Students are expected to use the sensors and wireless methods discussed in the prior laboratory experiments to configure and test the performance of the temperature and motion tracking system. Due to the portable nature of the equipment, remote instruction and delivery during the health pandemic was not a challenge.

Rowland, S. T., & Eckels, M. W., & Sundaram, R. (2021, March), Laboratory Instruction and Delivery of a Pilot IoT Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE North Central Section Conference, University of Toledo, Ohio.

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