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Microcomputers for data acquisition, control, and automation-a laboratory course for preengineering students

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3 Author(s)

A general engineering laboratory course featuring microcomputer interfacing for data acquisition, control, and automation is described. This course, available to all junior engineering students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was developed and run for 220 students in the Spring semester of 1984. The goals of the course were to: 1) provide experience in engineering problem solving and design; 2) teach and provide "hands-on" experience in the fundamentals of data acquisition and control using microcomputers; and 3) illustrate significant physical principles and engineering processes. The course included a short series of lectures on the fundamentals of microprocessors and the underlying theory of data acquisition (including sampling theory, signal conditioning, and analog-to-digital conversion). An extensive laboratory manual was developed to serve as the primary means of instruction. Three series of experiments were developed for this course. The microcomputer familiarization series gives the student background and experience in the use of the operating system commands, the high-level programming language, and how to use these in real-time application for data acquisition and control. The process control series is a problem-solving exercise in the instrumentation, control, and automation of the heating-mixing tank. The robotics series consists of the instrumentation, control, and application of a laboratory bench robot in a materials handling system. The implementation of this laboratory and its first offering are discussed. Problems involved with the equipment and the manual are presented. Student evaluations indicate the course was a success and faculty feedback is similarly positive.

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Education, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:28 ,  Issue: 2 )