Instructional Laboratory

Last spring, UIUC announced that we were moving from Compass2g (Blackboard) to Canvas this academic year.  So, I've been exploring Canvas over the summer and decided to jump in and move my course to Canvas this fall.  My plan is to share tips about developing courses in Canvas along the way.

Since I have to manually move my content, my goals for this semester are to have a paperless lab and the content is also accessible for all students in my lab.  For the latter, I am going to draw from the UDL guidelines and the IT Accessibility 101 course provided by the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services at Illinois. 

My first course in Canvas will be BIOE415: Biomedical Instrumentation Lab.  I'm organizing each lab into a module with background information and the experiment instructions.  Therefore a lot of my content is getting transferred to pages that are just webpages and you can edit the HTML if you know what you are doing.

My first tip is about how to add figure captions to images on pages in Canvas.  It is easy if you know HTML, but not if you are trying to search for how to do it on Canvas pages.

Read more: Canvas Tip - Figure Tags

The final results of my dissertation research about affordable and portable laboratory kits were published in Advances in Engineering Education in 2019. The full paper can be accessed from the AEE website.

Read more: Evaluating the Effectiveness of an Affordable and Portable Laboratory Kit for an Introductory Control Systems Course

At the 2018 Dynamic Systems and Controls (DSCC) Conference, I published a paper detailing the methods for validating various DC Motor models.  The full paper can be accessed from the ASME Digital Collection.

Read more: Validating DC Motor Models on the Quanser Qube Servo

At the 2017 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, I published the results of a comparison of lab kits using the control systems laboratory framework (CSLF) that I published earlier this year in the IEEE Transactions on Education. The paper also includes a suggested process for using the CSLF in new laboratory development (see photo above).  The full paper can be accessed in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library.

Read more: Applying a common framework to develop undergraduate control systems laboratory kits

At the 2017 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, I published a paper about teaching assistants (TAs). The observations about the influence of TAs in the laboratory emerged from the laboratory equipment study that I conducted during my dissertation. Based on student comments during the original study, the TAs had an impact on the learning environment in the laboratory.   The full paper can be accessed in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library.

Read more: The influence of teaching assistants in an undergraduate engineering laboratory course

During my dissertation, I surveyed control systems faculty, laboratory staff, and industry professionals to determine common aspects of undergraduate control systems instructional laboratories. Through two different survey techniques, I defined the most common learning objectives, concepts, and components of a laboratory apparatus. The results of this study were recently published in IEEE Transactions on Education. The full paper can be downloaded from IEEE Explore.

Read more: Common Learning Objectives for Undergraduate Control Systems Instructional Laboratories

The technical details of my laboratory kit for control systems were published in the Raspberry Pi special edition of Electronics.  This article also includes the newly added Furuta Inverted Pendulum attachment for the kit.  The open access paper can be found on the Electronics website.

Read more: Developing an Affordable and Portable Control Systems Laboratory Kit with a Raspberry Pi

I created a video demonstration of my control systems laboratory kit to help expand the reach of the new possibilities of instructional laboratories with low-cost hardware.

Read more: Video of Control Systems Laboratory Kit

At the 2015 IEEE Frontiers in Education conference, I presented the preliminary analysis of the quantitative data we collected about a laboratory kit during the 2014-2015 school year.  During both semesters, half of the GE 320 laboratory sections used our new kit (treatment) and the other half used the existing equipment (baseline).  In this preliminary analysis, we determined that we could not detect a difference in performance on exams between the treatment and baseline groups.  The full paper can be found on the IEEE Explore website.

Read more: Assessing an affordable and portable laboratory kit in an undergraduate control systems course

At the 2015 American Control Conference (ACC), I presented a paper in the invited session on Controls Education.  In this paper, I included the technical details and code developed for the GE 320 laboratory kit.  The technical details include a bill of materials and circuit board diagrams.  The code includes s-function code and Simulink models used in the laboratories. The models used to 3D print other parts are available upon request. The full paper can be found on the IEEE Explore website.

Read more: Developing a new affordable DC motor laboratory kit for an existing undergraduate controls course

A bring your own experiment (BYOE) is a special category of papers at the ASEE Annual Conference in the Division Experimentation and Lab-Oriented Studies.  In a BYOE paper the author describes how to develop equipment and/or a novel set of experiments.  At the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference, I published a BYOE paper about the GE 320 laboratory kit I developed and the experiments that can be performed with the kit.  During the conference, instead of a traditional paper presentation, I demonstrated an experiment with the kit in a science fair style session.  The full paper can be found on the ASEE PEER website.  

Read more: BYOE: Affordable and Portable Laboratory Kit for Controls Courses

We are seeking volunteers who have experience teaching and/or developing control systems laboratories. The purpose of this study is to determine a consensus of the most important learning outcomes, concepts, and equipment for students to experience in a control systems laboratory. In order to achieve a consensus the survey will be administered in four rounds between June and August 2015. Each round will take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete.

Read more: Recruiting Volunteers for a New Project on Low-Cost Hardware

On October 23, I presented the first paper my advisor, Dr. R.S. Sreenivas, and I published on my research of affordable and portable laboratory kits for undergraduate controls education courses.  The paper and presentation were part of the ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  The slides from the presentation are included below and the full paper is available in the ASME Digital Collection

Read more: ASME DSCC Paper and Presentation

MATLAB Code for Lab Kit

The MATLAB and Simulink files for my motor control lab kit is available on GitHub.

3D Models for Lab Kit

The instructions for experiments using my motor control lab kit is available on GitHub.

Experiments for Lab Kit

The instructions for experiments using my motor control lab kit is available on GitHub.