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Machine Diagnostics Revisited

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Topics in Mechanical ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.877.1 - 9.877.8

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Paper Authors

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Nancy Denton

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Heather Cooper

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

Session 2547

Machine Diagnostics Revisited Nancy L. Denton, Heather L. Cooper Purdue University


For more than a decade, the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) Department at Purdue University has taught an elective course in machinery diagnostics. The course is designed to provide the knowledge and expertise needed in the field of condition monitoring, also known as reliability centered or predictive maintenance. Condition monitoring is increasingly widespread in industry, but is rarely incorporated into undergraduate curricula. This machine diagnostics course was developed to prepare engineering technology students for the sophisticated testing and analysis technology of the maintenance field. The conceptual content of the course has been relatively constant; however, the laboratory activities have evolved significantly to adopt additional technologies and software. This paper will review the original course design and compare it to recent course offerings, with emphasis on the ongoing effort to incorporate monitoring of a variety of operating parameters and to engage with industry.


Through advances in solid-state electronics, instrumentation, and computing capabilities in the 1970s and 1980s, the field of machinery condition monitoring obtained the technology needed to make predictive maintenance a practical approach to maintaining rotating equipment. Previously the responsibility of consultants who analyzed the condition of a handful of critical machines, monitoring programs were expanded to include necessary supporting equipment (pumps, motors, compressors) and duties were shifted to a combination of skilled trades personnel, maintenance engineers, and technicians in-house1. This shift from consultants to maintenance professionals created an educational void, where graduate engineers and engineering technologists lacked the knowledge needed to successfully manage predictive maintenance programs2.

An initial pilot version of MET 317 Machine Diagnostics was offered in the fall of 1990 to six senior Purdue University MET students to begin to address this missing educational component for maintenance professionals. A team approach was adopted to facilitate acquisition of equipment and development of laboratory activities3. The course was established on a permanent basis in 19924. Table 1 lists the original course topic outline and laboratory activities. Minor changes to the lecture topics and ongoing significant laboratory evolution have occurred in the years since its inception. For more than five years now, the course has been offered at least twice a year for up to thirty students per session.

Several mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering technology programs have developed machinery vibrations courses5. In an approach that appears to still be unique to the Purdue University diagnostics course, multiple operating parameters are studied. Students learn which operating parameters are the best indicators of specific machine problems. Vibration

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Denton, N., & Cooper, H. (2004, June), Machine Diagnostics Revisited Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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