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Work-in-progress: iOS® Devices as DAQ and hardware for experiments in class to enhance the real touch, feel and see experiences

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Computers in Education (CoED) Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1393.1 - 23.1393.7



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Paper Authors


Alexander Hans Nagl Penn State Berks

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Mr. Alexander Nagl is a sophomore at Pennsylvania State University-Berks Campus studying towards a degree in Computer Science. He has a very deep interest in developing apps for the iOS devices and is also looking at developing video games for these platforms. In the past year he has been working on several engineering educational apps that will enhance and bring experiments to the class to enrich student learning.

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Rungun Nathan Penn State Berks Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Rungun Nathan is an associate professor in the division of engineering at Penn State-Berks. He got his B.S. from University of Mysore, his DIISc from Indian Institute of Science, his M.S. from Louisiana State University and his Ph.D. from Drexel University. He has worked in electronic packaging in C-DOT in India and then as a scientific assistant in the Robotics laboratory at the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore, India. He worked as a post-doc at University of Pennsylvania in the area of Haptics and Virtual Reality. His research interests are in the areas of unmanned vehicles particularly flapping flight, mechatronics, robotics, MEMS, virtual reality and haptics, and teaching with technology. He has active research in the area of lift in Porous medium with Dr. Qianhong Wu (Villanova University). He is an active member of ASEE and ASME and reviewer for several ASME, IEEE and ASEE, FIE conferences and journals.

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WIP: iOS® Devices as DAQ and hardware for experiments in class to enhance the real touch, feel and see experiencesReal touch, feel and see experiences are very important aspects for mostengineers to gain deeper understanding. For this primary reason, educationalinstitutions in the past several decades have always included laboratoryexperiments as part of the undergraduate curriculum. The experiments built the“gut instinct” for many of the engineers as part of their educational experience,which has proved useful in their professional career.Real touch, feel and see experiences are provided by experiments inlaboratories. Laboratories in general are expensive, occupy real estate that donot find alternate uses and naturally become the primary targets for costreduction in most colleges and universities. With the advent of computers andtheir increased capability of generating realistic simulations as substitutes forlaboratories, administrators of colleges and universities found a justification foreliminating laboratories. In fact most ABET approved programs in the countryhave far fewer laboratories in their recommended academic plans than they did afew years ago. The reduction or elimination of real touch, feel and seeexperiences of laboratories have in general contributed to the loss of “gutinstinct” for many engineers.Using the increasingly common smart phone with cost effective hardware,experiments have been designed to bring back some of the touch, feel and seeexperiences to the classroom. Almost every smart phone on the market has twosensors that can be used for creating in class experimental experience; agyroscope and an accelerometer. This work in progress (WIP) has utilized thesesensors and developed experiments and apps for download for any student orteacher to use as part of their education. Figure 1. shows the accelerationrecorded for a single experiment.As part of this WIP, an app has been developed to gather the raw data of thesensors as shown in figure 2. An option to record the data or the graph data hasbeen provided. Once the data is gathered the data can be e-mailed, or uploadedto another device via Bluetooth. Past experiment data is stored using the dateand time format currently. (see figure 3) Exported data from the experiment canbe processed and graphed using Excel (see figure 4) or Matlab or any othersoftware.Currently experiments to study linear acceleration, spring-mass-damper systems,and pendulum motion have been developed and are undergoing tests andevaluation. Experiments make use of a toy car for a mobile platform, rubberbands, hooks, a rigid bar of known mass and properties, etc. along with phoneapps. Most smart phones SDK (System Development Kit) provide access tocurrent and future sensors for the development of apps. Using the SDK, this WIPhas developed smart phone apps to read the current sensors, process them and generate graphs. The data from these sensors can also be wirelessly transmitted to other platforms (like other smart phones, IPads®, laptops etc.) for further use. This WIP has used Excel® and Matlab® to process the data and integrate it with a simulation to provide the student. All this makes the smart phone a very powerful tool in the classroom. Future plans include testing the apps and hardware in the classroom to study the impact it has on student learning.Figure 1. Trace of acceleration from theaccelerometer for a particular experiment Figure 3. Raw data gathered stored by date and timeFigure 2. Raw data interface on an IPod. Figure 4. Data exported and plotted in Excel

Nagl, A. H., & Nathan, R. (2013, June), Work-in-progress: iOS® Devices as DAQ and hardware for experiments in class to enhance the real touch, feel and see experiences Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22779

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