Originally published by TecQuipment, October 8, 2019
East Tennessee State University, which has a history of teaching engineering technology dating back to the 1930s, made the decision to expand the course offering in 2015 to include a BSc in General Engineering which combines courses from mechanical, civil and electrical engineering. To teach the course they needed an engineering laboratory that had equipment to practically teach the principles of civil and mechanical engineering. There were existing electrical engineering laboratories, to serve the BSc, in the electrical engineering technology program. After going out to bid, TecQuipment won, based on a balance between price and functionality of equipment.
With a complete basement floor renovation, new equipment from TecQuipment and the installation of high-tech classroom equipment, the floor now boasts to be one of many high-tech laboratories within the university.
Data Acquisition Capabilities
TecQuipment’s own data acquisition system, VDAS®, is available on many of the company’s products, and provides real-time data display and capture, with real-time calculation of equipment-specific variables, and data charting with fast and easy data export.
“TecQuipment is one of the few providers of engineering teaching equipment that integrate all the data acquisition into their products, making it easier to draw out data from the experiments. This was one of the various reasons which made us choose TecQuipment over others in the industry,” commented Professor J Paul Sims, Director of the BSc General Engineering degree program.
Just the right amount of interaction
“TecQuipment’s products also lend themselves very well to student manipulation in the laboratory. Similar equipment in the market made it too easy, like a cook book. It’s important for the students to interact, to get the full learning benefit,” added Professor Sims.
All TecQuipment products come with a detailed user guide, which includes sample experiments. These set guidelines provide a great starting point for embracing the theories in focus. The equipment has the flexibility to be used beyond these set examples, some of which you can find illustrated by students on TecQuipment’s YouTube channel.
The Laboratory Set-up
- A Small Engine Test Set (TD200) that acts as a base unit for attaching a modified four-stroke petrol engine and modified four-stroke diesel engine, plus a frame-mounted VDAS® unit (Versatile Data Acquisition System). Used with a Manual Volumetric Fuel Gauge (AVF1), Crank Angle Shaft Encoder (ECA102) and Engine Cycle Analyser (ECA100), students can investigate the thermodynamic cycle of each of the engines, and explore variables, including mean effective pressure and indicated power, the mechanical efficiency, and carry out combustion analysis, plus much more.
“This product is a great example of how TecQuipment balances the right level of student interaction with the equipment to improve the learning experience. From putting the fuel in, and physically pulling the manual starter on the motor, to making adjustments to the needle valve and throttle to take readings and carry out performance comparisons within VDAS®,” added Professor Sims.
A video of a student using this test set illustrates Professor Sims’s points: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKiG8Nt7pEE
- A Water-to-Air Heat Exchangers (TD1007) experimental unit for learning how cross-flow water-to-air heat exchangers work, plus frame-mounted VDAS® that allows them to complete tests quicker and make the recording of results easier. For comprehensive teaching on the topic, they also purchased the 16-tube heat exchanger and 16-finned heat exchanger ancillaries.
- The Heat Transfer Experiment Base Unit (TD1002), Linear Heat Conduction Experiment (TD1002a) and versatile data acquisition was selected together for teaching the fundamentals of heat transfer.
Fluid Mechanics included:
- A Digital Hydraulic Bench (H1F) which is the base unit that supplies, recirculates and measures water for flow pressure and measurement experiments including:
- Discharge Over a Notch (H6) for studying weirs for flow regulation and measurement, and the Flow Measurement Methods (H10) apparatus for measuring the effectiveness and comparisons on and between the Venturi meter, orifice plate and rotameter of an incompressible fluid. Plus a couple of different turbines: the Pelton (H19) and Francis (H18) turbine.
- A Losses in Piping Systems (H16) apparatus for investigating the friction losses in different types of piping systems (straight, bends, valves, elbows, sudden contraction and sudden expansion).
- A Centrifugal Pump Test Set (H47) apparatus for teaching students about centrifugal pump performance. For clear pressure display, the team opted for an Analogue Pressure Display (AP1) ancillary and frame-mounted VDAS® to fit on the instrumentation frame of the test set.
Engineering Science included:
Another key point for the BSc program was the ability to integrate VDAS® with LabVIEW. Both the Engineering Technology and Engineering programs use LabVIEW in most laboratories to support student development and provide students with a working knowledge of LabVIEW, which is a standard industrial platform for control and monitoring of processes.
Installation and Training
In major installation cases, TecQuipment personnel will often be sent out to site to help with the commissioning and training of products.
“After the customer service installation I feel very confident. The products are straight forward and the user manuals are great!” explained Assistant Professor Samia Afran. “I came prepared with a whole blank notebook to document all that TecQuipment’s applications engineer was going to train me on. But I didn’t need to write anything, it was all in the provided documentation.”
Local Sales and Support
TecQuipment works with partner companies across the world that specialize in understanding the local engineering education institutions and delivering products that best match their teaching requirements.
In this case, local partner for Tennessee, RELETECH, had proven themselves before the bid even came in.
“We trust the team from RELETECH, and TecQuipment too. This established relationship gave us extra conviction in knowing that the bid process had selected the rightful vendor to work with,” added Professor Sims.