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Revision And Translation Of Existing Programs As A Tool To Teaching Computer Data Acquisition And Control Systems Design And Implementation

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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

Virtual Instrumentation

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1070.1 - 9.1070.12



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Paper Authors

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Viva Austin

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Keith Koenig

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Bryan Gassaway

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Thomas Hannigan

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

Session Number 3159

Revision and Translation of Existing Programs as a Tool for Teaching Computer Data Acquisition and Control Systems Design and Implementation

Thomas Hannigan, Keith Koenig, Bryan Gassaway, Viva Austin Department of Aerospace Engineering, Mississippi State University


Keeping data acquisition and control systems (DACS) used in a graduate and under- graduate laboratory current in a rapidly evolving technological environment is an expensive and time-consuming task. Computer architecture and software have evolved more rapidly than the curriculum repeats, and the interfaces commonly used for DACS now vary widely, including parallel, serial, and Ethernet based protocols. Experimental programming is thus under near-constant revision and adaptation. Since the aerospace industry is widely varied, entry-level engineers may end up working with legacy systems from long-established laboratories, or find themselves in a startup research lab associated with modern computational facilities. It is essential that students learn the basics of designing experimental DACS, as well as the adaptation and evolution of existing programs. Using the well-documented and complete programs of the past allows a complete illustration and understanding of the principles of DACS, and provides a familiarization with legacy programming limitations. The revision of DACS programs written in various forms of BASIC and Testpoint into a more commonly used environment such as LabVIEW insures that the undergraduate laboratory experience interests, prepares and enthuses the experimentalists of tomorrow. This paper discusses and documents the processes used to familiarize upper division aerospace engineering students with the black arts of DACS. Details concerning the programming tasks, legacy hardware and software issues, and the motivation for keeping laboratory studies current are discussed. Also detailed are measures of student success and outcomes assessment concerning laboratory studies.

Motivation for Continuing Laboratory Education

Every engineering discipline has struggled to keep classrooms and laboratories abreast of the waves of technology sweeping them into the future. In aerospace engineering in particular, the rapidly evolving computer hardware and software have enabled great strides in computational field simulations. This evolution has benefited every major discipline and thrust area of this field, including analysis, simulation or optimization of structures, aerodynamics, propulsion, and control systems. The tools used in the educational laboratory have had to evolve to keep pace with this technological revolution, and in an economic climate of declining tax revenues, public-funded institutions in particular have struggled to remain abreast. Laboratory managers and educators have

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

Austin, V., & Koenig, K., & Gassaway, B., & Hannigan, T. (2004, June), Revision And Translation Of Existing Programs As A Tool To Teaching Computer Data Acquisition And Control Systems Design And Implementation Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12901

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