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Improving laboratory training for automation and process control courses with a specifically designed testing software application

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4 Author(s)
F. Mateos ; Viesques, Asturias, Spain ; A. M. Lopez ; V. M. Gonazalez ; J. M. Enguita

A common problem in automation and process control courses, often arises at the practical stage. Students have to implement and test their control programs using specialized control devices (such as microcontrollers or PLCs) and, in many cases, the use of scale models or real process components is not possible, having to deal with a large number of switches, LEDs, etc., which not only may be confusing, but also drastically reduces their motivation. To mitigate this problem, other tools that could somewhat help by simulating the general behavior of the process (such as SCADA applications), are used. However, they are not intended for that purpose, so in most cases they are found inadequate. PROSIMAX, an easy-to-use Windows based tool for testing control programs implemented on different control devices, is presented. Using PROSIMAX, a virtually infinite number of real processes are easily cloned into virtual processes which, once attached to the control device, will behave as the real ones. It is intended to minimize the main drawbacks of classical tools used for test in educational environments. However, PROSIMAX is intended to be used as an auxiliary tool, being known the fact that the use of real components or scale models is the best way to achieve a satisfactory educational result

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Education  (Volume:44 ,  Issue: 2 )