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Using a Whole House Generator as a Teaching Aid

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2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting


Virtually Hosted by the section

Publication Date

November 12, 2021

Start Date

November 12, 2021

End Date

November 13, 2021

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Harley H. Hartman P.E. Pennsylvania State University, York Campus

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Assistant Teaching Professor in Engineering
York Campus EMET Program Coordinator

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This paper explores the pedagogy of engineering education with reference to using real-world examples of the materials learned in the classroom. Making this unique to other tours or demonstrations is the fact that it is exposing the student to information learned in many classes and how each of these classes provides material that contributes to form a complete system. Teaching several courses in the EMET (Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology) program, I have shared, with the use of field trips to my house, a custom-built whole house generator system. The system includes systems and components discussed in courses ranging from Electrical Machines, Operational Amplifiers, Digital Systems, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and Automatic Control Systems. Synchronous machines and generators are discussed in the electrical machines class and a demonstration of voltage regulation as well as frequency control is performed during the visits. This involves the use of automatic control systems associated with the machine and are also discussed. The system is monitored and controlled by a Programmable Logic Controller with numerous remote I/O systems which directly relate to the PLC classes. Digital I/O is used for entering a fuel level via thumb-wheels, incorporating concepts discussed in the digital systems class. The Operation amplifier class is related through the coolant temperature monitoring system with custom built transducer providing an analog current loop signal to the PLC. Also related to the electronics course is the choke control system which accepts a current loop signal from the PLC and controls an RC servo to position the choke plate of the engine for starting. Although this is a one-of-a-kind system, the pedagogy of exposing the students to systems as apposed to individual applications can be presented in a variety of other ways. For example, factory tours with an emphasis on the many parts and components learned about in various classes and how they’re used to form a complete system.

Hartman, H. H. (2021, November), Using a Whole House Generator as a Teaching Aid Paper presented at 2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting, Virtually Hosted by the section.

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