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Teaching Electronics Laboratory Classes Remotely

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Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference



Publication Date

April 9, 2021

Start Date

April 9, 2021

End Date

April 10, 2021

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David RB Kraemer The Johns Hopkins University

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After earning his PhD from Johns Hopkins University, Dr Kraemer has focused his career on undergraduate engineering education. Previously, he taught as a Full Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville. He is currently an Associate Teaching Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University.

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Teaching Electronics Laboratory Classes Remotely

The global pandemic has made teaching laboratory courses particularly difficult. Even at schools where students are in person, the high-contact nature of laboratory instruction means that these courses cannot be taught in their usual fashion. This paper describes the author’s methods for adapting two undergraduate engineering laboratory courses for remote instruction: a basic circuits course, and a basic mechatronics course. Both courses rely heavily on the hands-on experience of their laboratory components.

In both cases, circuit simulations using the free TinkerCAD web-based simulation tool were used. The simulations allowed for experiments to proceed in the first few weeks while equipment kits were sent out to remote students. Once equipment kits allowed experiments with hardware, the simulations proved useful to supplement the experiments for comparison of theory and experiment.

One piece of equipment was pivotal to the remote laboratory experiments: the Espotek Labrador USB oscilloscope / function generator / power supply. This device has significant limitations, but at USD$30, it enables assembling kits for non-trivial experiments at a surprisingly affordable cost. Also included in the kits were breadboards, Arduino microcontrollers, motors, encoders, servomotors, sensors, wires, basic components (resistors, capacitors, and inductors), multimeters, transistors, op-amp chips, NAND logic gate chips. This paper describes laboratory a few selected experimental procedures that were used in the two courses, incorporating simulations as well as equipment in the distributed kits.

The courses were well received. Student evaluations indicated positive results; the quality of the course and, importantly, the intellectual challenge of the course were seen to be quite similar to those ratings for the course during in-person instruction. More importantly, several of these techniques will be useful for improving the courses, making them more versatile and effective after the return to in-person instruction.

Kraemer, D. R. (2021, April), Teaching Electronics Laboratory Classes Remotely Paper presented at Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference, Virtual . 10.18260/1-2--36320

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