Monday, September 17, 2012

Five Things To Look For When Choosing Lab Equipment

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
     - Confucius (551 – 479 BCE)

These words of wisdom are as relevant today as they were 2500 years ago when they were first written. They reflect the most effective way to teach controls and create the ideal learning environment for your students, especially hands-on experimentation that bridges the gap between theory and practice. Adhering to the following guidelines will help you choose lab equipment wisely and ensure your learning environment will be the best it can be.
Your students will benefit when you provide them with the best possible learning environment.
Hands-on experimentation.  Look for experiments that are created expressly to help your students get practical experience in controls. As an example, our hands-on devices have captivated students for more than 20 years. Interacting with them, students learn fundamental concepts through their senses. This allows students to better assimilate theory and ultimately become creative and well-rounded engineering graduates.
Easy set up.  Setting up a control experiment or a complete lab should be simple and straightforward.  To that end, our labs consist of modular elements and include all the components and peripherals your students will need. Take Quanser's Rotary Servo Control Lab.  All of its available hands-on experiments are designed for quick, repeated assembly and disassembly. Plug and play connectors and provided cables allow students or lab technicians to make fast connections when setting up a control workstation. There is no need to strip wires or solder custom cables. The same is true for all Quanser experiments.
Our Rotary experiments alone you offer over 30 hands-on labs built around a Rotary Servo Base Unit (SRV02).  Nine experimental modules can be added on to the Rotary Servo Base Unit. So your control lab can consist of up to 10 different workstations, each featuring a different module to help students learn introductory, intermediate and advanced control concepts.
Building block courseware.  Another important consideration when choosing lab equipment is the availability of accompanying courseware to teach basic control topics in logical, progressive steps. With each experiment, Quanser provides an array of courseware that can include instructor workbooks, student workbooks, user manuals, laboratory guides and quick start guides. One hands-on experiment builds on another, so students can grasp concepts and then increase their knowledge a step at a time.
Our courseware is designed so you can use it to create your curriculum or supplement it. Either way, you’ll save valuable prep time and be able to spend your classroom hours working with your students at a high level.

A relentless focus on the real world.  We offer you hands-on experiments and building block courseware geared to connect your students to real-life engineering problems.  That's why our Rotary Pendulum experiment teaches classic self-balancing dynamics – the same controls problem that was faced by the inventor of the Segway electric vehicle. Our Rotary Flexible Link experiment introduces students to the kind of flexibility challenge presented to the engineers who designed the Canadarm Shuttle Remote Manipulator System. Our Rotary Gyro/Stable Platform experiment teaches your students about such real-world applications as space satellite orientation.  The list goes on.

Controls applications are crucial to the safe, efficient operation of modern transportation technology.
The Rotary Servo experiment teaches concepts integral to such high-precision applications as a CD-ROM drive.

Make the most of a Quanser - National Instruments campus visit. If you live and teach in North America, be sure to check out the National Instruments (NI) LabVIEW  Campus Tour should it come to your university this fall or spring. This specially-outfitted RV recreational vehicle is taking four NI-based technical workstations that highlight teaching and research applications on the road to 120 universities across North America. The Controls workstation will feature two automated Quanser-NI powered demos: Servo motor with Inverted Pendulum module, and Active Suspension.  For more information and the NI LabVIEW Campus Tour schedule, click here.  To discuss any particular challenge and solution you have in your controls courses, contact us at about having an Academic Solutions Advisor come and meet with you.

Is National Instruments' LabVIEW Campus Tour, featuring a NI-Quanser Controls Workstation, coming to your North American campus in 2012 -2013? Check the schedule.
Attracting, retaining students and graduating students are more of a challenge than ever.  One of the best strategies for ensuring you accomplish all three is to provide your students with a learning environment that allows them to move well past theory to the solid understanding that comes from hands-on experience. Confucius would definitely approve.

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