June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
15.914.1 - 15.914.17
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 . 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
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