Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.852.1 - 9.852.13
Learning Process Control with LEGOs®
S. Scott Moor, Polly R. Piergiovanni and Matthew Metzger Lafayette College
Introduction One of the key challenges of undergraduate engineering education is providing students an experience that includes both solid theoretical underpinnings and a clear connection to industrial practice. This is especially important for process control, where students often find it difficult to connect the mathematical analysis with a practical application.
Over the last 18 months, we have developed inexpensive and flexible process control lab kits that allow students to design, implement and test their own control systems in the classroom. At the heart of the process is the LEGO® RCX brick, an inexpensive system that grabs student interest. Using the kits, students are able to construct the physical process with quick release fittings and implement the control system in software using LabVIEWTM Student Edition and ROBOLABTM for LabVIEW.
The first prototype consisted of level control for a single tank. The kit has been expanded to include level control for two tanks (interacting or noninteracting), flow control, cascade control and temperature and. The software has been modified so that a simple front panel is immediately accessible and understandable to the students, but, as they learn more process control theory, they can study, understand and modify the subpanels, which perform the control actions. The software is designed to work as a general control program for the LEGO RCX brick and will work with any sensors and control elements that can be interfaced with the RCX brick.
Development of the Laboratory Kits Flexible, inexpensive kits were developed which students used to quickly put together small processes and their control systems. The kits contained a pump, two tanks, and a variety of piping, fittings and sensors. The main pieces have quick release fittings1 allowing a process, including sensors and control valves, to be assembled quickly and easily. Students connected the sensors and control valves to a computer interface and “built” a control system in software. The details of the basic kits were provided in an earlier paper2.
Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright @2004, American Society for Engineering Education
Metzger, M., & Piergiovanni, P., & Moor, S. S. (2004, June), Learning Process Control Wtih Legos Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13264
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