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Work in Progress: Adding the Internet of Things to a Freshman-level Engineering Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Technical Session 5: Topics related to Engineering

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


W. Davis Harbour Louisiana Tech University

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Dr. Davis Harbour is a Senior Lecturer and Program Chair for Electrical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University. He earned his BS and MS degrees at the University of Oklahoma and he earned his PhD degree at the University of Arkansas. His primary teaching responsibilities are in the freshman and sophomore engineering courses, and his interests include microcontrollers, data acquisition systems, control systems, and engineering education. He is a member of ASEE and IEEE.

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Stan Cronk Louisiana Tech University

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Dr. Stan Cronk is a Senior Lecturer in Industrial Engineering at Louisiana Tech University. He earned his BS and PhD degrees at Louisiana Tech University in Biomedical Engineering. His primary teaching responsibilities are in Industrial Engineering as well as the general freshman and sophomore engineering courses. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Louisiana for Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is a member of ASEE and IISE.

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Nishant Shakya Louisiana Tech University

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Nishant Shakya is a second year Ph. D. student in Computational Analysis and Modeling (CAM) at Louisiana Tech University. He holds a BE degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University in Nepal. His research interest is centered around the intersection of information theory and computer science. He takes a multidisciplinary approach in his research that encompasses the fields of electrical engineering, mathematics, computer science, and statistics. He is a registered engineer of NEC (Nepal Engineering Council) and a member of AMS (American Mathematical Society).

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Work-In-Progress: Adding the Internet of Things to a Freshman-level Engineering Course

This work-in-progress paper describes the addition of the hardware, software and course material required to add the topic of the Internet of Things to a year-long freshman introduction to engineering course sequence. This course sequence is delivered in a combination lecture/lab format that is, to a large extent, hands-on and project driven utilizing the Arduino Uno development board. In the first course of this sequence each student receives a kit including an Arduino development board, a breadboard, resistors and other hardware used throughout the year. For this topic, an ESP8266-01 WiFi module is used to add network access to their Arduino boards, and class time is allocated for the students to implement this new hardware on a separate breadboard, working in groups of two. The ESP8266 module is a 3.3V device that requires the addition of a 3.3V regulator to the breadboard, as the 3.3V regulator on the Arduino board does not supply enough current for wireless transmission. The Arduino is a 5V system, so a voltage divider circuit is required for the serial data signal from the Arduino to the ESP8266. A potentiometer is added to the breadboard to provide a voltage signal simulating any industrial sensor, and this voltage signal is connected as an analog input on the Arduino. At the point in the curriculum where this topic of the Internet of Things is added, the topics of voltage regulation, power consumption, voltage divider circuits and analog to digital converters have already been covered at least once, so this exercise allows for the intentional repetition of these fundamental topics. Lecture time is allocated to discuss the software required for the Arduino to use the ESP8266 module to connect to a wireless network and obtain a unique IP address for each group of two students. The code then continuously reads from the potentiometer and sends a packet of data containing the voltage signal and the unique IP address for each group to a server on the network. A database has been created on this server that receives the data from each Arduino system and stores the signal values based on the IP address in each packet. A web server application has also been developed on this server that pulls the data from the database for a particular IP address and provides that data to graphical objects. The students are then able to open web pages on this server that show the voltage signals from their IP address in near real time using objects such as scrolling line charts and gauge charts. The topic of the Internet of Things concludes with a discussion of the application of this technology in areas such as the smart home (utilizing temperature sensors, motion detectors, and switches on doors and windows), industrial settings (such as petrochemical plants utilizing flow sensors, level sensors, and pressure sensors on widely dispersed tanks and pipes), and medical applications (utilizing wearable sensors that measure, amongst other things, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure).

Harbour, W. D., & Cronk, S., & Shakya, N. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Adding the Internet of Things to a Freshman-level Engineering Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33589

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