Adamczk, B., Jack, H., “Creating Continuity in the Engineering Curriculum Through Laboratory Experiences”, ASEE North Central Section Meeting Proceedings, Cleveland, March 2001.
Creating Continuity Through Laboratory Experiences
B. Adamczyk and H. Jack
At Grand Valley State University we have been developing a thread in the curriculum based upon instrumentation and writing. This thread begins in a fourth semester circuits course (EGR 214 Circuits I). In this laboratory course all engineering students learn to use multimeters, power supplies and oscilloscopes to make electrical measurements as part of formal laboratory experiments. The laboratory reports are written in a formal report. The course also includes a reviewed paper that was used to strengthen writing skills. The laboratories for this course are taught by faculty members from both the electrical, and other disciplines.
The circuits course is followed in the fifth semester by a systems analysis course (EGR 345 Dynamic System Modeling and Control). This course also includes laboratories that build upon the laboratory experience in EGR 214. The continuity includes instrumentation, writing and faculty teaching the labs.
The paper describes the continuity between an Electrical Engineering course (EGR 214) and a Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering course (EGR 345). This has allowed unique opportunities to build upon topics and build writing skills, while preventing students from compartmentalizing the circuits topics from following courses.
Mechanical and manufacturing engineering students often taken a circuits course, including laboratory experiences.
This experience is often separated from later experiences in other mechanical engineering courses
This loses a valuable opportunity to start threads in the curriculum
Laboratories include the use of simple equipment such as multimeters
but this is not used in later courses.
mechanical students often disconnected from electrical courses
The Circuits Course
The basic details of EGR 214 - Circuits I
Third semester, all engineering students
Written report during semester
Basic components - resistors, caps, inductors, power supplies, op-amps, etc
KVL, KCL, mesh, node, thevinen-norton, etc.
Instruments in EGR 214 include,
Tektronics oscilloscopes with pen plotters
Current Limiting power supplies
Laboratory experiences in EGR 214 include
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The Systems Analysis Course
The basic details of EGR 345 - Dynamic Systems Modeling and Control
Fourth semester after secondary admit
A design/build project during the semester leading to a written report
Modeling electrical and mechanical systems with differential equations
Solving differential equations with calculus techniques
Solving differential equations numerically
Cannonical forms of differential equations
Laplace transform methods
Bode plots, root locus, block diagrams
Instruments in EGR 345 include,
Current Limiting power supplies
Computers with Labview and DAQ cards
Laboratory experiments include
Introduction to Labview and data acquisition boards
Creating the Threads
Laboratory writing experiences are also consistent
From beginning to end, the level is expect to improve
Emphasis on analysis of results
Students expected to develop their own procedures
Typical guidelines used for both laboratory courses are,
A standard lab format between all sections
Consistent expectations for the use of software
A written report in addition to normal labs - with a rewrite process
High level of grammar usage
Threads are maintained by making same instruments available, as well as new instruments
Future instrumentation is listed below, and will replace the current instruments
Bi-polar current limiting power supplies
This will continue
Faculty from both disciplines often swap back and forth to teach labs - this creates an impression in the students mind that topics are not optional
The result is students that the level of writing and laboratory maturity increase substantially in the second course.
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