Innovative Improvements in Electronic Engineering ... - IEEE Xplore

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Maharashtra State Board of. Technical Education, Regional. Office, Nagpur (M.S.), India [email protected] Vijay H. Mankar. Department of Electronics and.

Innovative Improvements in Electronic Engineering Laboratory Education using Electronic Mini Lab (EML): A Case Study Vikas J. Dongre Department of Electronics and Telecommunication, Government Polytechnic, Gondia (M.S.), India [email protected]

Ramkrishna V. Yenkar Maharashtra State Board of Technical Education, Regional Office, Nagpur (M.S.), India [email protected]

Abstract- This paper presents the innovative method of laboratory learning in Electronic engineering at Government Polytechnic Nagpur and Government Polytechnic Gondia. Students were motivated to purchase their own electronic MiniLab (EML) components. They designed simple yet fascinating projects using EML. Students did all the development activities individually. They helped each other and demonstrated collectively. In the process, they learned many aspects of engineering. This will make them skilled engineers. This provides tremendous benefits in teaching learning process. It also boosted the interest, confidence of students. Incorporating active/ cooperative learning into traditional instruction can be a useful pedagogical tool to help students to perform practical and project work. This concept is remarkably simple and cost effective but extremely beneficial to teaching learning process. Keywords- Electronics Mini-Lab (EML); skill based education; hands on experience; interactive learning; participative learning; Breadboard; Microcontroller.

I. INTRODUCTION The most desired outcome of engineering technology education is the creation of skilled technologists who are able to approach the design and application of both hardware and software with aptitude and creativity [1]. Engineering is a practical discipline. It is hands-on profession where doing is the key. It is generally agreed that the aims of laboratory work can be broadly classified in three domains of learning [2]. 1. Cognitive Domain: Activities like Instrumentation, Modeling, Experimentation, Data Analysis and Design. 2. Psychomotor Domain: Activities like manipulating the apparatus, Sensory Awareness. 3. Affective Domain: behavior and attitudes learnt from failure, creativity, safety, communication, teamwork, and ethics in the laboratory. Exposing students to all three of these domains is necessary to produce an effective engineer. Cognitive research indicates that real learning and understanding is better accomplished through cooperative and interactive techniques. Furthermore, being brought up in an era of TV and video games, today’s students have limited attention span but they respond well to multimedia stimuli and interactive activities [3]. Recent studies such as [4], [5] show that there is a gap between traditional training and the skills actually needed in today’s job markets in the various domains like cognitive flexibility, creativity, knowledge transfer and adaptability. Therefore, being able to solve new problems based on the knowledge acquired has become a desired outcome of technical education institutes. In order to bridge this industry-

c 978-1-4799-1626-9/13/$31.00 2013 IEEE

Vijay H. Mankar Department of Electronics and Telecommunication, Government Polytechnic, Nagpur (M.S.), India [email protected]

educational gap, the long-term goal is to create a progressively more engaging laboratory experience with problem solving emphasis and various skill and knowledge acquisition. The objectives are: 1. Enable active and hands-on student engagement to develop excellent problem solving and troubleshooting skills. 2. Provide opportunities for the students to develop teamwork skills. 3. Encourage lifelong curiosity towards science and technology. In the context of college classroom, such active learning involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing [6]. Indian National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (ICT), in its objectives suggested about Facilitating, development and deployment of ultra-low cost physical tool kits for engineering and science students to encourage project and design based learning complementary to the e-learning [7]. A practical in the laboratory is an essential part for verification of classroom theory in all subjects of engineering education. The ratio of theory to practical varies at various levels of education. In engineering degree, the ratio is generally 60:40. In engineering diploma or polytechnic, it is 40:60. In industrial training institutes (ITI) it is 20:80. This highlights the importance of practical sessions. In this paper our work specifically emphasize on electronic engineering group branches. In electronic engineering laboratories, various instruments and components are very small and delicate. They need careful handling. Despite this, the quality of practical kits imposes problems. The kits are fitted in the opaque cabinet and terminals are brought out. While handling the trainer kits by many batches of students and occasionally providing voltages of incorrect ranges or making wrong connections, the kits start malfunctioning. Occasionally the kits do not function at all. This deprives the students from getting practical exposure. Even if the new setup of kits operates properly, students are not able to see or handle all the electronic components physically. Students study a lot about various electronics components analytically, but when examined, they are not even able to identify the basic components. In order to impart effective teaching and learning, we have introduced Electronic Mini Lab (EML) concept in Government Polytechnic Nagpur since 2008-09 [8]. Replacing conventional laboratory format,


2 hours of activity-based instruction per week provides an insight of in-depth practical exposure to large number of students [9]. This revised study format encouraged the students greatly to understand by doing, not merely listening or observing. This helped students to improve understanding of various engineering concepts [10]. II. ELECTRONICS MINI-LAB (EML) The proposed EML consists of all the required items like battery, ICs, LEDs, connecting wires and various other tools. The detailed list is given in table I. It may be noted that students procure the kit at their own cost by personally going to electronic market [12]. The cost of all material is approximately Rs.1300/- or US $25. The EML is introduced in third semester when students start learning core technology subjects related to their branch. Initially the EML was used to perform the practicals in Digital Electronics Lab. After gradually adding various electronic components, the same EML is used to conduct some practicals in various laboratories like Electronic Devices and Circuits, Linear Integrated Circuits, Microprocessors, Microcontrollers. The transparent plastic container with convenient size is selected which can be accommodated in the college bag of students. Recommended dimension in our college is mentioned in table I. Two small visiting card size containers were used for storing small size components and ICs. The students bring the EML during practical days.


SN 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20




Digital Multi-meter 1 200 Soldering Iron 1 200 Soldering stand 1 60 De-soldering Braid (mesh) 1mtr 20 soldering wire 1 25 Soldering flux 1 15 Breadboard 1 75 9 V Battery with connector 1 30 Wire stripper 1 50 Nose plier (small) 1 80 Hook up wire various colors 3 mtr 03 Berg strip male and female 2 05 Heat shrink tube 3mm diameter 1 mtr 05 Plastic container 10” x 8” x 2” 1 70 Plastic container3” x 2” x 0.5” 2 15 LED various colors 5 mm 5 02 Resisters ¼ watt (330 ohm) 10 1 IC 7805 , voltage regulator 1 20 ICs: 7400, 7402, 7404, 7408, 1 each 7432, 7486, 7493, 555, LM324, LM741, IC 89S51 LDR, Thermister, Photodiode, 2 each POT Total Approximate Cost Rs.

III. CONNECTIONS AND WORKING WITH EML In the first or second practical session, when the students procure their own EML, they are familiarized with the arrangement available in the Breadboard. Basic workable breadboard connections for power supply are made. Three pin regulator IC7805 is connected. 9V Battery is connected at the input of regulator IC. Output indicator LED connections are made as shown in figure 2. Finally a basic logic circuit is mounted for initial testing purpose as shown in figure 3. The students get confidence when the LED glows. The step by step procedure is instructed to all the class on blackboard and the students make the connections on breadboard simultaneously. It is like hands-on workshop experience for the students. [8], [9], [11].

Fig.1 Electronic Mini-Lab (EML)

The connections are tightly and perfectly made with proper color coding since these connections are to be preserved for the whole semester. The students are instructed to follow the identical connection methodology on the breadboard for the ease of testing and troubleshooting. The horizontal short-circuited two rows on the top and bottom of the breadboard are used for VCC and Ground using Red and Black wires respectively. Once the LED glows, it ensures that connections, regulator IC, battery are operating properly. Fig. 2 basic working model


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Approx Cost (Rs) 200 200 60 20 25 15 75 30 50 80 10 10 05 70 30 10 10 20 300 80 1300

From next laboratory session, the actual practicals on combinational logic begin. For the entire practicals, centre line of the breadboard is used for mounting the ICs. VCC and ground are available on top and bottom lines both. VCC and GND are suitably connected to the IC pins using hook up wires. Inputs are given from VCC and GND, as logic 1 and logic 0 respectively. Output of the Digital IC is given to LED through current limiting resister. Once the input and output connections are properly made, output is observed on LEDs very conveniently. This gives visible output and pleasant experience to the students.

Fig. 3 Sample practical setup

After the first successful experiment on the breadboard, students get conversant with the arrangement. From next practical onwards, the students operate the EML indigenously to design breadboard-based circuits. The teacher discusses idea of logic circuit by drawing it on blackboard and within the work of 20 to 30 minutes the logic circuits are successfully designed and tested. The students themselves help each other to make the circuit work. Every student operates on his own circuit. Hence, there is no crowd near any specific kit. The students and teacher gets enough time for technical discussion, clearing the doubts and continuous assessment. For sequential circuit design, IC555 timer is connected on the breadboard in mono stable mode with 0.5-second time period. It is triggered using push to on switch for manual clock generation. Thus, all the sequential digital circuits can also be designed on the breadboard.

Fig. 4 Students experimenting with EML

Wire stripper is needed occasionally for preparing the connecting wires. Berg strip (male) may be connected to both the ends of connecting wires for comfortable connections on the breadboard. This also necessitates soldering. Heat shrink tube is used for taping the solder joints. IV. CASE STUDY: MICROCONTROLLER BASED LED FLASHER In fifth semester of Diploma in Electronic Engineering, Students study Microcontroller. This subject involves both software and hardware. Maximum practicals are software and simulator based. As a part of mini project in this subject, students are given the task of designing LED flashing circuit. It the miniature version of LED based lighting decoration which used in social functions and festivals. As the idea is well known and fascinating, students are very enthusiastic and excited. This involves moderate microcontroller based circuit and software code. The software code is developed using KEIL trial version software (fig. 5). It is simulated. Final code is made ready for programming the microcontroller IC 89S51. Each student brings his / her own microcontroller IC and programs it using —Cflash microcontroller programmer. This programmed IC is fitted on breadboard. A prototype of LED flasher circuit is designed by all the students individually using EML discussed in previous section. The design and testing is done by the students by their own in free time at home. For this, logical guidance is provided by the teacher in the class. In all 80 students were assigned the task. 65 students successfully completed the task in stipulated time.

Fig. 5 Students in software Lab

Fig. 6 Flashing display Exhibition

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1. Common demonstration was arranged in the laboratory. It was a grant success. Students were very excited to see such a huge decorative flashing display (fig. 6). The event was video recorded and uploaded to internet on youtube [13].

3. Such demonstrations can be video recorded with good quality mobile camera for future demonstrations. VI. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

LEARNING: 1. Each student takes his / her own responsibility. 2. Hands on skill develop skill and confidence. 3. Cooperative learning takes place as the students solve difficulties and help each other in testing the circuits. 4. Students study all aspects of microcontroller application from scratch to final presentation. 5. Students learn creative thinking, problem solving, testing and debugging. V. CASE STUDY: MICROPROCESSOR BASED ANALOG TO DIGITAL CONVERTER In fifth semester of Diploma in Electronic Engineering, Students study microprocessor interfacing. Demonstration of interfacing Analog to Digital converter is done. Breadboard is used for mounting IC DAC 0808, variable analog input and digital LED display. Digital multimeter is used to read analog input. The setup is done in one of the practical batches with the help of students as shown in figure 7. As the circuit involves loose wires, functional reliability of the setup reduces. It is difficult to demonstrate the setup to all the students of the class. Hence the demonstration is video recorded using good quality mobile camera. The video recording is presented in the class. The recording is paused at various places and setup is explained. Various analog and corresponding digital readings are recorded by pausing the video. This setup provides excellent virtual earning to the students. The video is uploaded to internet on youtube [14] for worldwide viewing. LEARNING: 1. Moderately dense and complicated circuits can also be designed and tested using EML. 2. Difficult circuits can be carefully designed by teacher and demonstration can be arranged. This boosts the skill of teacher as well confidence of students.

1. EML which was proposed for basic practicals is proved to be very useful in all subjects of electronic engineering. 2. EML enhanced the psychomotor skills, interest, curiosity and confidence in the students. 3. Knowledge of handling EML helped conducting many practicals cheaply and conveniently anytime anywhere. 4. Hands on learning helped students in designing and testing major projects which are necessary as a part of final year diploma and degree in engineering. 5. As the students get 100% practical exposure, they also develop interest in theory classes. This synergies the teaching learning process. Students now actively participate in theory and practical both. Hence teacher also gets indirectly motivated and imparts knowledge with more interest. 6. Observation of students using EML clearly indicates that they had gained better practical approach for designing any circuit. The pass out students from this college, undergoing their graduation, experience that they are well equipped with the potential of practical approaches as compared to their mates coming from other colleges. 7. Use of EML has become part and parcel of teaching learning process in Government Polytechnic Nagpur and Gondia. Government Polytechnic Nagpur now regularly conducts annual Breadboard based design competition which a grant success in the region. 8. Video recording of practical demonstration is very useful laboratory teaching learning tool. Absent candidates of the class or any other institute students can also view the recording and get the knowledge virtually. 9. All such practical demonstrations can be video recorded and stored in main server of institute. This knowledge base can be made available to the students using local intranet. 10. Such collaborative project can be implemented in various institutes and large pool of recorded knowledge base can be preserved at state or national level, which will enhance further learning of students especially in rural region of the country. VII. CONCLUSION

Fig. 7 Analog to Digital Converter setup


Electronics Mini Lab (EML) implemented as an interactive and improved method of teaching learning using easily available instruments and electronic components. The EML is cost effective and portable. Students accept the concept with great enthusiasm and zeal improving their psychomotor skills. Students are involved in higher order thinking (analysis, synthesis and evaluation). They are well equipped with the

2013 IEEE International Conference in MOOC, Innovation and Technology in Education (MITE)

potential of practical approaches, which helps them in higher education and in professional career. Thus, EML is greatly useful for inculcating the skill based learning process in Engineering Diploma and undergraduate programs of Electronics Engineering curriculum. The concept can be equally extended with suitable modifications in other branches of engineering. Thus it can be concluded that Electronic Mini Lab (EML) along with modern technology resources like mobile camera and internet can serve as boon to practical teaching learning process. “Words are words, explanations are explanationsBut only hands on experience is the Bottom line” ACKNOWLEDGMENT Authors are thankful to Principals of Government Polytechnic Gondia and Government Polytechnic Nagpur for allowing Electronic Mini Lab in their institutes and encouraging hands on interactive activity in laboratory work. REFERENCES [1] Farrokh Attarzadeh, Deniz Gurkan and Driss Benhaddou, ”Innovative Improvements to Engineering Technology Laboratory Education to Engage, Retain and Challenge Students of the 21st Century”, Proceedings of ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference, Southern University and A & M College American Society for Engineering Education, 2006. [2]

Lyle D. Feisel, Albert J. Rosa, “The Role of the Laboratory in Undergraduate Engineering Education”, Journal of Engineering Education, pp. 121-130, January 2005.

[3] Robin Bradbeer, “The Effectiveness of Teaching Introductory Electronics in an Integrated Teaching Studio Environment”, International Journal of Engg. Education, Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 344-352, 1999. [4] Ramaley, Judith A., Haggett, Rosemary R, “Engaged and Engaging Science: A component of a good liberal education”, Peer Review, winter. (2005). [5] Matthew F. Kazmierczak, Josh James, “Losing the Competitive Advantage? The Challenge for Science and Technology in the United States”, aea, pp. 4, February 05. http://www. Aeanet .org/publications /IDJJ _AeA_ Comp- etitiveness .asp . [6] Charles C. Bonwell, “Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the classroom”, Active Learning Workshops, Green Mountain Falls, CO 80819, [7] Report of National Mission on Education Through information & Communication Technology [ICT], Government of India, page 15, 2008.

[12] Vikas J. Dongre, Ramkrishna, V. Yenkar, Vijay H. Mankar , “Interactive Learning through Hands-on Practice using Electronic Mini - Lab (EML): a Case Study”, Journal of Engineering Science and. Management. Education Vol. 5 Issue-1, pp. 357-362, Jan-Mar 2012. [13] Weblink (self uploaded) [14] Weblink (self uploaded)

AUTHORS Vikas J. Dongre received B.E and M.E. degreein Electronics in 1991 and 1994 respectively. He served as lecturer in SSVPS engineering college Dhule (MS), India from 1992 to 1994, He Joined Government Polytechnic Nagpur in 1994 as Lecturer. He is presently working as lecturer in selection grade at in Government Polytechnic Gondia (MS). He is member of Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE) and Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication (IETE). His areas of interests include Microcontrollers, embedded systems, pattern recognition, Education Technology. He has published seven research papers in international journals and conferences. Ramkrishna V Yenkar received his B.E in Industrial Electronics from SGGS College of engineering, Shegaon (MS) and M. Tech. in Electronics from VNIT, Nagpur in 1987 and 1990 respectively. He served as a Lecturer about 7 years in engineering colleges. Since last 17 years, he is working as Head, Dept of Electronics, Government Polytechnic, Maharashtra State. Presently he is serving as Deputy Secretary Maharastra State Board of Technical Education (MSBTE) regional office, Nagpur. He has published 10 research papers in national and international conferences. His field of interest includes Educational Technology, Analog / Digital systems and chaotic in nonlinear systems Vijay H. Mankar received M. Tech. degree in Electronics Engineering from VNIT, Nagpur University, India in 1995 and Ph.D. (Engg.) from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India in 2009 respectively. He has more than 18 years of teaching experience and presently working as a Lecturer (Selection Grade) in Government Polytechnic, Nagpur (MS), India. He is member of Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE) and Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication (IETE). He has published more than 40 research papers in international conferences and journals. His field of interest includes digital image processing, data hiding and watermarking.

[8] Vikas J. Dongre, Ramkrishna V. Yenkar, Vijay H. Mankar, “Electronic Mini-Lab (EML): A boon for Skill based Electronics Engineering Education”, International Conference on Education Informatics (Edumatics), Chikara university Chandigarh, May 22-23, 2010. [9] Beichner R. J., J. M. Saul, “Introduction to the SCALE-UP (Student Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs) Project”, Successful Pedagogies, pp. 61-66. [10] Jean-Claude Thom, Anoop Anoop Desai,” Interactive Learning Modules for Innovative Pedagogy in Circuits and Electronics”, 38th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, F2A-7, Saratoga Springs, N, October 22 – 25, 2008. [11] Jean-Claude Thomassian, Anoop Desai, Patrick kinnicutt, “Interactive Learning in Engineering Education”, American Society for Engineering Education, 2008.

2013 IEEE International Conference in MOOC, Innovation and Technology in Education (MITE)