June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Electrical and Computer
22.1590.1 - 22.1590.12
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. https://peer.asee.org/18536
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