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Sharing Laboratory Resources Across Departments For A Control Systems Curriculum

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Course Innovation

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1124.1 - 11.1124.13



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Paper Authors


Juliet Hurtig Ohio Northern University

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JULIET K. HURTIG is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Assistant Dean of the T.J. Smull College of Engineering. Her doctorate is from The Ohio State University. Research interests include control systems, nonlinear system identification, and undergraduate pedagogical methods. Dr. Hurtig is a member of IEEE, ASEE, and Tau Beta Pi.

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John-David Yoder Ohio Northern University

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JOHN-DAVID YODER is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and currently holds the LeRoy H. Lytle Chair at ONU. His Doctorate is from the University of Notre Dame. Research interests include education, controls, robotics, and information processing. Prior to teaching, he ran a small consulting and R&D company and served as proposal engineering supervisor for GROB Systems, Inc.

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Michael Rider Ohio Northern University

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DR. MICHAEL RIDER is a professor of Mechanical Engineering, and has taught at ONU for twenty-four years. His Doctorate is from Purdue University. He has taught courses in engineering drawing, statics, dynamics, advanced strength of materials, numerical methods, mechanisms, mechanical design of components, control systems, and Fortran and PLC programming.

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

Sharing Laboratory Resources Across Departments for a Control Systems Curriculum


As is the case in most curricula, Control Systems is a required course for both Mechanical and Electrical Engineering students at Ohio Northern University (ONU). Students in both majors are given extensive laboratory experience and have access to electives in this area. Students in Electrical Engineering take a two-quarter sequence while Mechanical Engineering students take one course. Both of these sequences introduce students to Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) in addition to the traditional course content. This makes students from both departments eligible for two elective courses in the area of control systems offered by the Mechanical Engineering department.

Over the past four years, the instructors for these four courses have collaborated closely to share laboratory and classroom content. The required Control Systems courses in both departments currently share a textbook. In addition, over half of the laboratory exercises in the Mechanical Engineering course are also used in the Electrical Engineering courses, with minor modifications. While this has caused some scheduling and administrative difficulties, it has reduced cost to the College of Engineering and simultaneously increased the quality of the laboratory. Another area of common hardware is that the same PLC devices are used to introduce students to this technology in the required Control Systems courses in both departments. These same PLCs are again used for Applications in Control Systems. This has the economic benefit of sharing equipment costs between the two departments, while at the same time insuring that students taking Applications in Control Systems are already familiar with the hardware they will be using for this elective course.

The paper will detail the collaboration between departments during this four-year period. Details of purchasing as well as administrative and scheduling challenges will be addressed. Faculty and student assessment of the laboratory experience will also be provided. It is hoped that other institutions may benefit from similar collaboration to keep costs down while still providing a significant control systems laboratory experience, something many Mechanical Engineering programs lack.

I. Introduction:

Most undergraduate Mechanical Engineering (ME) programs include a control systems course. At Ohio Northern University, this course has included a weekly laboratory component for many years. Updating this laboratory and providing students with a strong hands-on experience have been recent priorities of the mechanical faculty. At the same time, the Electrical Engineering (EE) program has historically had a required two- course sequence in control systems. The electrical engineering program is part of the Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department (ECCS) at Ohio

Hurtig, J., & Yoder, J., & Rider, M. (2006, June), Sharing Laboratory Resources Across Departments For A Control Systems Curriculum Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--776

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