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New Directions In Engineering Education: The Development Of A Virtual Lab Course In Electronic Circuits At Michigan Technological University

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Pedagogical Innovations in Laboratory Education

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.914.1 - 15.914.17



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Paper Authors


Glen Archer Michigan Technological University

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Glen Archer is a senior lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University. He received his BSEE from Texas Tech University. He brings nearly 30 years of experience as a U.S. Air Force officer to the university setting. He retired from the Air Force at his final assignment as the Commandant of Cadets at AFROTC Detachment 400 at Michigan Tech. He earned an MA in Information Systems Management from Webster University. He currently teaches Circuits and Instrumentation for non-electrical engineering majors, manages the electrical engineering undergraduate laboratories, and is working on his PhD in Electrical Engineering. He is the faculty advisor for Blue Marble Security Enterprise. In his off-duty time, he pursues cross-country skiing and helps to maintain the Maasto Hiito/Churning Rapids trail system.

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Kedmon Hungwe Michigan Technological University

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Kedmon Hungwe serves as an associate professor of Cognitive and Learning Sciences at Michigan Technological University.

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Luke Mounsey Michigan Technological University

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Luke Mounsey is a native of Gladstone, MI, and has earned M Eng and BSEE. He is currently pursuing an advanced theology degree from Grace Baptist College in Gaylord, MI. He enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, and the occasional random research project.

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

New directions in engineering education: The development of a virtual lab course in electronic circuits.

Abstract – The development of virtual education satisfying the needs of engineering education is getting increased attention in the current era of Web and virtual technologies. In this paper, we present the rationale, implementation and formative evaluation of a virtual lab environment for an electronic circuits course. The system, which is under development, has been designed as a supplement to a traditional course, providing an option to on-campus students. It is also intended overcome the barriers that non- traditional students, holding regular jobs and geographically separated from campus, face. The distance education option provides remote laboratory experiences, using a graphic interface that is equivalent to a real laboratory that traditional students experience.


Michigan Technological University began offering its Circuits and Instrumentation course for non-Electrical Engineering majors to distance education students as an opportunity for automotive industry employees to begin to retool for inevitable changes in their industry. Eventually offerings expanded to support the Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments Power Engineering certificate program as well as co-op and learn abroad programs. One of the distinguishing elements of education is the lab experience [3]. There is a growing interest in using the Internet to provide students with remote access physical laboratory apparatus [1, 2, 5, 6]. However, the adoption of the Internet to deliver to deliver and implement laboratory experiences has been slowed down by concerns about quality of instruction [3, 4]. Engineering educators face new challenges to design effective learning experiences for the next generation of engineers, using the emerging technologies [2, 6]. The problem for the Circuits and Instrumentation course at Michigan Tech was that it had a significant lab component that was increasingly difficult and expensive to deliver. The challenge was to develop, implement and in some manner validate a circuits laboratory that represents the pedagogic equivalent of a hands- on laboratory. This paper represents our effort. The Michigan Tech Distance Lab system enables distance-learning students to perform electrical engineering lab experiments over the internet. These experiments involve using actual circuits, and actual measurement tools. It is not a simulation. This system is enabled by National Instruments LabVIEW and Electronic Laboratory Virtual Instruments Suite (NIELVIS). The NIELVIS provides several measurement tools, as well as a breadboard on which to build the circuit. With LabVIEW running with its internal web server enabled, and NIELVIS providing an interface between the actual circuit components and LabVIEW, the students are able to measure various electrical quantities of the circuit as if they were in the lab.

Methods The paper reports on two pilot studies. In the first study, a small group of automotive industry employees took the full Circuits and Instrumentation course at a distance, with


Archer, G., & Hungwe, K., & Mounsey, L. (2010, June), New Directions In Engineering Education: The Development Of A Virtual Lab Course In Electronic Circuits At Michigan Technological University Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16388

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015