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The Integrated Systems Engineering Laboratory An Innovative Approach To Vertical Integration Using Modern Instrumentation

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.526.1 - 4.526.9



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Paper Authors

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Maurice Walworth

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Kevin Schmaltz

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Ajay Mahajan

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David McDonald

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

Session 2259

The Integrated Systems Engineering Laboratory – An Innovative Approach to Vertical Integration using Modern Instrumentation

Ajay Mahajan Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Maurice Walworth, David McDonald and Kevin Schmaltz Lake Superior State University


The current paradigm in engineering course instruction builds on a lecture prerequisite structure but ignores the need for a laboratory prerequisite structure. Educational quality is therefore diminished as instructors optimize specific laboratories but fail to optimize the overall program laboratory experience. This paper presents a learning environment based on modern instrumentation that forces students to use not only concepts and skills acquired from the lecture, but also actual data and models acquired from lower division laboratories, in upper division laboratories. The vertical integration occurs because students must utilize their previous laboratory work as a reference and/or building blocks as they study the different facets of the same experimental set-ups in multiple engineering laboratories. The students learn to appreciate the integrated nature of modern systems since they get to use the same set-ups in multiple courses. Set-ups such as the inverted pendulum, mobile robot, a model airplane, a model train and a wind tunnel make heavy use of data-acquisition systems, programs written and developed in LabVIEW and MATLAB, and modern communication protocols such as RS485. The entire interface is through virtual instrumentation, and the lab is also being given the capability of remote access to the students. There are other indirect advantages of this approach in terms of financial economy and faculty professional development. This project has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and has resulted in the development of the Integrated Systems Engineering Laboratory (ISEL) that houses vertically integrated laboratory exercises for twelve courses from three different curricula.

1. Introduction

Most universities have limited resources in terms of space and equipment, hence the development of new laboratories is always a challenge. Hence, when a need was identified at Lake Superior State University (LSSU) for a series of new courses and accompanying laboratories, an innovative solution was sought. This led to the development of a single multipurpose laboratory that will be used in multiple courses similar to the Interdisciplinary Intelligent Mechatronics Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology [1]. The laboratory at Georgia Tech. is used by nine courses, but

Walworth, M., & Schmaltz, K., & Mahajan, A., & McDonald, D. (1999, June), The Integrated Systems Engineering Laboratory An Innovative Approach To Vertical Integration Using Modern Instrumentation Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. 10.18260/1-2--7750

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