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Using Logic Control In A Safety And Fire Program Fire Alarm System Engineering Course

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Hardware Descriptive Language Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1346.1 - 13.1346.11



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Paper Authors


Harry Franz University of Houston-Downtown

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Prof. Harry Franz is an Associate Professor in the Control & Instrument Electronics Design
Program and Safety & Fire Program at the University of Houston Downtown (UHD) in Houston, Texas. He has a BSEE and MSEE from the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a current P.E. and is a member of the NSPE and TSPE. He has worked in industry for sixteen years. He is a member of the IEEE and advisor to the UHD IEEE Student Organization. He is also a member the ASEE and ISA. He has been very active in the Tau-Alpha-Pi national ET honor society.

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

Using Logic Control in a Safety and Fire Program Fire Alarm System Engineering Course


The purpose of this paper is to describe the use of programmable logic controllers in a Safety and Fire program Fire Alarm System Engineering course (ENGR-1403) of a four-year university. The students in the course accomplish programmable logic control by using Automation Direct programmable logic controllers. The students achieve knowledge of generic logic control through the use of ladder logic, logic statements, and functional block diagram programming techniques. The students use a variety of software in the course that includes circuit software and LabVIEW. The LabVIEW software is used for both the design and simulation of fire alarm logic systems. In addition, the students use Honeywell commercial fire alarm control processors to perform practical system setup programming for vendor specific applications. The focus of this paper is on the programmable logic control teaching techniques that are used in the ENGR- 1403 course and the respective student exercise and project work

The students in the ENGR-1403 course have various levels of experience and academic backgrounds. Students in the course often have experience in the installation or maintenance of fire alarm systems. Typically the preponderance of the class students does not have a significant amount of experience using programmable logic. While some students may have limited programmable logic experience, their course entry experience most usually is not enough to allow them to program more advanced exercises or projects.

Discussed in this paper are the learning strategies and teaching methods that are used to impart knowledge of programmable logic control to the fire alarm systems engineering course students. First the fundamentals of basic logic are given in the course with special applications to fire alarm systems. Next, programmable logic methods are put forth. Ladder logic is then given and the respective mnemonic statements for the ladder logic are presented. Finally, functional block diagram logic programming is given. At all stages of learning relevant applications to fire alarm system are used.

Strategies that are used in the course to increase the student knowledge of fire alarm logic are taken from both engineering courses and from industrial training courses. Most of the class students have not taken a digital logic course. Therefore, logic gates, truth tables, Venn diagrams, and logic statements that are typically found in digital logic courses are presented in the fire alarm systems class. In addition, hands-on and industrial training methods are used. It is allowed for students to help each other perform exercises, but more often than not, few students in the fire alarm systems engineering class initially have enough prior knowledge of programmable logic to help the others. As the course progresses, however, students that advance more rapidly help support the others. Finally, it is very important to note that the knowledge of programmable logic control gained in the fire alarm system class is a very valuable asset for students when they become employed in fire and safety or in many other areas of industry. Student exercises and group projects will be given that use programmable logic control.

Franz, H. (2008, June), Using Logic Control In A Safety And Fire Program Fire Alarm System Engineering Course Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3193

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