June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.1157.1 - 15.1157.14
System Dynamics and Control Take-Home Experiments
Most Mechanical Engineering curricula include courses in system dynamics, controls, mechatronics, and vibrations. At most schools, these courses do not have a laboratory component. Even at schools that have such a component, laboratory access is often limited, and thus there is a need to increase students’ laboratory experience. This paper addresses the development of instructional material in the form of take-home software and hardware kits that can be used to perform laboratory experiments and measurements at home to illustrate system dynamics and control concepts. Rather than having students perform an experiment in the university laboratory, the students are given a compact, low cost software and hardware kit with which they can perform an experiment at home using only their PC. The kits are designed so that the experiments can be conducted on the provided experimental apparatus. The take-home kit consists of three components. The first is a hardware interface board that is built around a PIC18F4550 microcontroller which interfaces with the student’s PC and with the experiment hardware. The second component is a Windows-based user interface program that is loaded on the student’s PC and is used to run the experiment and collect data. The third component is the actual experimental setup or the sensor system to perform the measurement. Four experimental setups have been developed. These are a DC motor/tachometer system, a heater/temperature sensor system, a vibrating cantilever beam, and a temperature measurement system. The paper focuses on two of these experimental setups and their testing in two different undergraduate mechanical engineering courses.
Providing engaging laboratory experience is one of several challenges to effective undergraduate education in STEM disciplines as reported by The National Research Council (NRC) . There is also need for more laboratory experience in system dynamics and control courses. To make the teaching of dynamic systems concepts more engaging and interesting to students, we have developed take-home software and hardware kits that can be used to perform laboratory experiments and measurements at home. Since almost all students have home PC’s (either desktops or laptops) that are suitable for take-home experiments, this makes it possible for students to perform an experiment or obtain measurements outside the lab at their own convenient time, as they would with a homework assignment. Rather than having students perform an experiment in the university laboratory, the students are given a compact, low cost kit with which they can perform an experiment at home using their own PC.
Several educators have developed educational material to perform measurements and experimentation in engineering programs outside of the traditional university laboratory. Scott  reported on take-home experiments in fluid mechanics to illustrate basic concepts such as hydrostatics and the Bernoulli equation. Berg and Boughton  reported on the use of commercially available attaché cases or electronic trainers that cost in the $200 to $350 range for conducting experiments at home in lower division electronic laboratory courses. Durfee, Li and Waletzko  were funded by NSF to develop take home experimental setups. They developed
Jouaneh, M., & Palm, W. (2010, June), System Dynamics And Control Take Home Experiments Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16709
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