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Podcast Tutorials On Pspice And Lab In A Box

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Innovations in ECE Education II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.960.1 - 14.960.9



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Paper Authors


Carl Shek Virginia Tech

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Mr. Carl Shek is a Computer Engineering undergraduate student at Virginia Tech. He has been involved in the development of learning materials for the electrical and computer engineering program since 2007.

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Kathleen Meehan Virginia Tech

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Dr. Kathleen Meehan is an Assistant Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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Robert Hendricks Virginia Tech

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Dr. Robert Hendricks holds a joint appointment as Professor in Materials Science and Engineering and in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is the Associate Department Head in Materials Science and Engineering. He has been actively involved in the development of hands-on learning materials since 2003.

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

Podcast Tutorials on PSpice and Lab-in-a-Box Abstract

An approach has been developed to provide students with 24-hour access to multimedia tutorials from a department website using a readily available means to distribution – podcasts. Tutorials have been developed to cover select topics in PSpice as well as to address issues commonly encountered when using the hardware and the software oscilloscope used in an introductory circuits lab course, which is not taught in the traditional classroom laboratory environment. The advantage of podcasts is that students can view the tutorials while their computers are running the oscilloscope program, enabling real-time instructional support as they work on their labs while on or off campus. The podcasts are a mixture of still images and screen shots imported into a Powerpoint presentation with an audio track added. Currently, tutorials are compatible with three platforms: iPod nano, iPod Classic, and the iPod Touch. An explanation of the techniques applied during the development of the tutorials and a brief review of the current tutorials are provided.


A project known as Lab-in-a-Box (LiaB) was developed at Virginia Tech as one of the outcomes of a department-level reform of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, addressing a need that was identified through student and employer surveys for concrete examples of fundamental concepts in electrical engineering.1 LiaB is a set of ‘hands-on’ exercises in which students design, build, and test at home various d.c. and a.c. circuits using an inexpensive electronics kit, digital multimeter, and a software oscilloscope.2 Thus, LiaB does not require significant resources to implement. The inclusion of LiaB in our ECE curriculum has received overwhelmingly positive comments from the students as well as from faculty members who have adopted the kits for projects in upper division courses, which traditionally have been lecture-based with no lab component. LiaB has also been adopted by three community colleges in Virginia including Virginia Western Community College.

Despite the overwhelming success of LiaB, we still find that even the best students are often uncertain of their abilities to properly perform experimental work. One of the goals in our effort to develop multimedia learning materials is to instill self-confidence and improve self-reliance in the students when, for the first time in their engineering careers, they construct a circuit with physical components rather than symbolic parts in PSpice and determine the voltage drops and currents in the circuit by direct measurement rather than by plugging values into their calculators. To accomplish this, we have developed a number of podcast tutorials that support the pedagogical objectives of LiaB. The podcasts tutorials are available for download by the students from a departmental website, which they can view on their iPods while they are running PSpice, MatLAB, or the software oscilloscope program on their personal computers in full- screen mode or place next to their breadboard as they construct and test their circuit designs. In addition, a format is available to run on the students’ computers using QuickTime.

Shek, C., & Meehan, K., & Hendricks, R. (2009, June), Podcast Tutorials On Pspice And Lab In A Box Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4531

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