Developing a Minor Program in Computer-based Measurement and Instrumentation For Undergraduate Science and Engineering Majors
Abstract: The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Fort Valley State University has recently implemented a minor program in computer-based instrumentation and measurement. The primary objective of this project is to enhance the mathematics, physics, computer science, and electronic engineering technology programs at Fort Valley State University by designing and offering a minor in the field of computerized measurement and instrumentation. The minor program is structured around four courses: a two-course sequence in instrumentation and measurement systems, a course in applied statistics and a capstone. A salient feature of this program is its interdisciplinary nature since it serves various majors including physics, engineering, computer science, and chemistry. To support the aforementioned program a state-of-the-art computer-based instrumentation laboratory has been established. This lab is equipped with twelve (12) Pentium III PCs, data acquisition boards, signal conditioning modules, automation electronics, various passive and active sensors, and LabVIEW software. The lab also includes two experimental set-ups that can be fully controlled, monitored and operated by computer systems using virtual instrumentation technology. They also feature on-line capabilities that allow users to operate them remotely through the Internet. The new curriculum has positively impacted our existing programs in many respects. For the first time, our students have been able to perform applied research in their fields of engineering and science and publish/present their findings in a national scientific conference. In addition, the lab has been utilized as an instructional facility in teaching of a number of courses in mathematics, physics and engineering. This paper describes the efforts undertaken with respect to curriculum development and the technological infrastructure put in place to offer this minor program. Also included in this paper are student comments and a general discussion regarding the program’s positive educational impact and implementation challenges.
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