June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1051.1 - 12.1051.11
Mechatronics and Systems Instruction Across Graduate, Undergraduate, and Research Applications Using Rapidly Reconfigurable Hardware
Abstract A challenge with the development of any new laboratory is the cost-effective use of hardware resources. This work discusses the development of a reconfigurable data-acquisition architecture across three different application areas in university mechatronics and control systems instruction setting: undergraduate education, graduate education, and graduate-level research. An analysis is offered of the different operational and educational requirements across these different levels of instruction. In many cases, these educational tiers present non-complementary requirements including different expectations on ease of use, durability, compatibility, software complexity, and performance. This work presents a laboratory development strategy that assists in balancing research and teaching while simultaneously fostering new activity in both areas.
Introduction When faced with developing laboratory or research hardware across undergraduate, graduate, and research level applications, the historical solution at many educational institutes is simply to purchase and support distinctly different hardware data-acquisition solutions between the three separate areas. Not only is this expensive and unduly time consuming, but also it artificially breaks a natural continuum of instrumentation education across levels of instruction.
There are several means to address the issue of limited time and resources. The simplest is to limit student exposure to hardware, and sadly this is an approach widely used. To counter this budget-centric focus, educators have long anecdotally claimed that interactive laboratory experiments and problem-based learning (PBL) foster a stronger education. Fortunately, there are very comprehensive studies in the recent literature that unquestionably validate problem- based learning1 and leave no doubt that hands-on interaction is essential to efficient learning.
Another way to provide student exposure to hardware is to seek out low-cost “trainer” type experimental systems. Examples of these abound in the literature2-10, and while these are useful for primarily undergraduate education, their applicability to graduate education and research is clearly limited.
Another option is to purchase or develop a few research-grade systems and allow controlled student access to these devices. While this method is also commonly used11-18, it is generally unclear how well such systems scale in number or durability to situations where hundreds of students or more utilize the equipment.
Yet another option is to pool resources across departments to form a lab facility with sufficient support to hire a controls lab developer that assists with research deployment19. This very unique and successful approach requires interdepartmental coordination at a level beyond the feasible effort level of an individual faculty member, especially one just starting at a new institution.
Brennan, S. (2007, June), Mechatronics And Systems Instruction Across Graduate, Undergraduate, And Research Applications Using Rapidly Reconfigurable Hardware Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2844
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