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Use of Electronics Explorer Board

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Experiential Learning in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1590.1 - 22.1590.12



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Paper Authors


Mihaela Radu Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Mihaela Radu received the M. Eng. degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in 1985, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, in 2000. Since 1991, she has been an Assistant Professor, then Associate Professor with The Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Faculty of Electronics and Telecommunications. In 2003, she joined Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Indiana, as Associate Professor,
Over the past ten years she taught several courses on Electronic Components and Circuits, Digital Systems, Design of Fault Tolerant Systems and Testing of Digital Systems. Her current research interests include Fault Tolerance of Electronic Systems, Programmable Logic Devices and new educational methods to teach digital system design and analog electronics.

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Clint S. Cole Digilent, Inc.

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Clint graduated from Washington State University in 1987 with a B.S. degree in computer science, and worked for Hewlett-Packard and Physio-Control before co-founding Heartstream in 1991. Heartstream pioneered the design of ultra-portable, low-cost defibrillators that are now deployed in millions of settings around the world. After Hewlett-Packard purchased Heartstream in 1997, Clint returned to WSU to complete a MSEE degree in 1999, and soon after co-founded Digilent. Digilent was formed to create products and services to help educate electrical engineers, and has since grown to become the world’s leading supplier of programmable logic design kits, with products used by more than 80,000 students per semester in more than 1000 Universities worldwide.

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Joe Harris Digilent, Inc.

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Joe Harris, M.B.A., J.D., Director of Business Development, manages overseas offices, development of Digilent's education product line, and corporate issues. Mr. Harris has worked in the high-tech industry for several years and is a Fulbright Fellow to Albania where he worked with micro-business development issues.

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Mircea Dabacan Technical University of Cluj-Napoca

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Professor at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Faculty for Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology, Applied Electronics Department.
General Manager of Digilent RO

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Use of Virtual Instrumentation in Circuits and Systems Education AbstractAccording to a report published for The Royal Academy of Engineering, UK (2006), the pace ofchange in industry is expected to intensify in both the technological and non-technologicaldomains. Certain disciplines, including electrical/electronic and system engineering are seen asparticular likely to be of increasing importance over the next ten years. Looking at particularskills and attributes needed for engineers, there is strong evidence that the top priorities in termsof future skills will be: (a) practical applications, (b) theoretical understanding and (c) creativityand innovation.The same report claims that certain topics are seen by students to be more difficult than otherswhich can lead to skills’ shortage in some particular areas. Noting for example that analogueelectronics is often perceived as a harder subject than digital electronics, students are inclined todecide on the later, leading to a shortage of skilled engineers in analogue electronics design. Atthe level of digital circuits, “more you push the technology, more analogue becomes”, sostudents looking for careers in digital design need a solid analogue background also.Instructors at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, IN noticed that the lack ofconceptual framework for the understanding of analog circuit behavior has left many electricaland computer engineering students believing that analog circuit design is an impossible topic tomaster. Trying to address this problem, an experiment is currently conducted at RHIT. Studentsenrolled in the sophomore level class “Electronic Device Modeling” and in the junior level class“Digital Systems” are given unlimited access to the Electronic Explorer (EE) boards, an unifiedset of virtual instruments. The EE boards allow students to work on their lab experiments andprojects at home, at their own pace. Traditional laboratory instrumentation are used to test andverify the circuits at the end.The Electronics Explorer Boards, provided by Digilent Inc combines powerful test andmeasurement devices with a self-powered breadboard to create a complete, unified, and standalone circuit-development station. Using a USB-connected PC as a display and control interface,the Electronics Explorer boards makes it easy for students to build and test all types of analogand digital circuits. Circuits build on the breadboard can be connected to the on-boardoscilloscopes, waveform generators, voltmeters and various digital instruments using simplejumper wires. The EE boards are powered by free PC-software that makes it easy to acquire,explore, create and reuse data files.The study conducted at RHIT will try to determine if the use of virtual instrumentation helps toimprove the learning process, development of problem solving skills, the attainment ofElectronics specific knowledge and skills, and the proper use of instrumentation tools.Quantitative data will be analyzed by comparison to historical data gathered from student groupsthat did not have unlimited access to virtual instrumentation boards.

Radu, M., & Cole, C. S., & Harris, J., & Dabacan, M. (2011, June), Use of Electronics Explorer Board Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18536

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