June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.863.1 - 11.863.10
LabVIEW graphical programming in an introductory engineering physics course Abstract
LabVIEW graphical programming is used at the introductory engineering physics level to expand the student mindset in an early stage. The virtual instrumentation and computational capabilities are incorporated into the laboratory exercises. The virtual instrumentation serves as a practical equipment simulation tool, especially for those with expensive equipment such as the E/M ratio and fiber optics laboratory exercises. The computational capabilities serves as a powerful numerical simulation tool for assessing uncertainties where closed form mathematical expressions are not available. A few selected LabVIEW programming designs are presented as illustration with additional emphasis on preparing the students for continuing to the upper division courses and for conducting undergraduate research. The role of LabVIEW parallel programming is contrasted with other text oriented languages such as Visual Basic in simple examples such as the virtual instrumentation of light switches. While the LabVIEW data acquisition feature is not taught in this introductory course, its deployment as a software interface certainly streamlines the data collection procedure for the students and adds remote control capability. Furthermore, our campus has student clubs such as the Robotics Club. LabVIEW can serve as an integral part of this kind of extracurricular activity that combines mechanical, electrical and optical engineering principles. Due to the low cost of purchasing a student version, LabVIEW is cost effective in a teaching environment.
One of the major utilities of an introductory course is to provide for the prerequisite for advancement to advanced courses. The use of LabVIEW in the engineering curriculum for data acquisition and virtual instrument has been well documented 1, 2, 3, 4 . Computation and programming for a lecture setting was also reported 5. Various independent projects using LabVIEW were well documented in many publications 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. It is accepted that the use of LabVIEW is invaluable in general but is limited to hands-on intensive situations13. Our experience in using LabVIEW in our laser engineering technology program is consistent 14: LabVIEW’s virtual instrumentation and internet remote access features are not effective for hands-on intensive lab exercises.
The teaching of introductory engineering physics lab exercises can be enhanced with LabVIEW. The virtual instrumentation and computational capabilities are incorporated into the laboratory exercises. The virtual instrumentation serves as a practical equipment simulation tool especially for those with expensive equipment such as the E/E ratio and fiber optics laboratory exercises 15. The very same idea of supplementing expensive lab equipment with virtual instrumentation was reported earlier in the simulation of fire alarm and power station exercises 7, 8. The computational capabilities serves as a powerful numerical simulation tool for assessing uncertainties where closed form mathematical expressions are not available. In a typical exercise, a student is asked to infer some parameter values from the collected data. Using a simulation to match the collected data is a typical methodology for solving inverse problems. In addition, if engineering physics can act as a universal donor 16, the use of LabVIEW in an
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