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Teaching Modern Data Acquisition Systems With A Departmental Requirement For Student Laptop Ownership

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1076.1 - 8.1076.11



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Paper Authors

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Stephen McClain

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Bruce Cain

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

Session 1566

Teaching Modern Data Acquisition Systems with a Departmental Requirement for Student Laptop Ownership

Stephen T. McClain Bruce Cain The University of Alabama at Birmingham Mississippi State University Department of Mechanical Engineering Department of Mechanical Engineering BEC 358B, 1530 3rd Ave S P.O. Box ME Birmingham, AL 35294-4461 Mississippi State, MS 39762


The undergraduate laboratory sequence in mechanical engineering (ME) at Mississippi State University (MSU) begins with ME 3701—Experimental Orientation, a one-hour laboratory focusing on engineering measurements, instrumentation, and modern data acquisition (DAQ) systems. Instruction and student projects in ME at MSU concerning modern DAQ systems have changed considerably in past five years. One driving force in changing the DAQ instruction is the departmental requirement of student laptop ownership. Modern DAQ systems are currently introduced using National Instruments, Inc., PCMCIA data acquisition cards and DAQ signal accessories hosted by the students’ laptops. Using the students’ laptops with department owned PCMCIA DAQ cards has eliminated the need for large DAQ laboratories, has increased hands- on DAQ instruction, and has allowed expanded use of DAQ systems in ME 3701 and the other undergraduate laboratories. With the experience gained in the undergraduate laboratories, current graduate students are using their own laptops and the PCMCIA cards (on a check-out basis) to perform research. The history of DAQ instruction in ME at MSU, the current DAQ instructional methods, and benefits of the current ME 3701 pedagogy to the other ME laboratories and graduate instruction are detailed.


Laboratory sequences in many mechanical engineering programs are arranged for each individual laboratory to support a specific class, such as fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, or heat transfer. Alternatively, the objective of the mechanical engineering (ME) laboratory sequence at Mississippi State University (MSU) is to teach students experimental design, which includes transducer selection, computerized data acquisition system usage and programming, uncertainty analysis, and data reduction techniques. To achieve the goal of teaching experimental design, the undergraduate laboratory sequence in ME at MSU consists of three, one-hour laboratories: ME 3701—Experimental Orientation, ME 4721—Experimental Techniques I, and ME 4731—Experimental Techniques II.

In ME 3701, students study engineering measurements, transducers, and data acquisition systems. Students perform eight to ten experiments concerning electrical and mechanical Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2003, American Society for Engineering Education

McClain, S., & Cain, B. (2003, June), Teaching Modern Data Acquisition Systems With A Departmental Requirement For Student Laptop Ownership Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12354

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