In proceedings ASEE Annual Conf., Montreal, June 2002.
Killing two birds with one data acquisition system
James Mayhew and Richard A. Layton

An open-circuit wind tunnel is upgraded by adding a commercially-available data acquisition system used to teach students some basic concepts of data acquisition, instrumentation, calibration, and assessment of results. Student teams were given 30-60 minutes of hands-on instruction on how to acquire data using the system. Eight student teams participated over two quarters, performing calibrations of the load cells and angle-of-attack indicator, using the results of those calibrations to find the lift and drag of a model wing, and assessing whether the calibrations and confidence intervals found by the earlier teams were reliable. All teams served as "contractors" for us, helping us improve the quality of our wind tunnel while they learned. Key results for our students: learning how to set up and use a simple data acquisition system; making us aware of sources of uncertainty in the lift and drag measurements of our wind tunnel; learning when collecting more data helps decrease uncertainty and when it does not; and gaining experience in meeting our needs as customers. In our opinion, the project is readily implemented by an individual instructor or two and should be considered intermediate-level instruction in instrumentation and data acquisition, appropriate for implementation at the junior or senior level.

©2002 American Society for Engineering Education.

Link to the full paper (pdf)
Return to list of publications

Richard A. Layton
Last modified: 01 Jul 02