Andrews University

College of Arts and Science
Engineering & Computer Science Department
ENGR 415
Virtual Instrumentation
Syllabus – 3 Credits – Fall 2013
1. To become competent in using state-of-the-art VI tools, primarily LabVIEW

2. To become competent in data acquisition and instrument control
3. To comprehend the fundamental concepts of virtual instrumentation
4. To create a portfolio-quality virtual instrument system
5. To systematically develop and manage a VI project
6. To write and present project reports
7. To learn independently
Basic Information
Credits 3
Location Haughey Hall 316
Time MW 8-9:20 am & SuM 6:30-9:30 pm for scheduled sessions; W 8-9:20am Skype
Prerequisites ENGR275 and either CPTR125 or CPTR151
Class Website via
Don DeGroot PhD EE
Skype ccni.don
Course Material
Textbook LabVIEW 2009 Student Edition,
R.H. Bishop, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010, ISBN 0-13-214129-9.
Software LabVIEW Student Edition Version (DVD included textbook, or NI download).
Resources The LabVIEW style book, P.A. Blume, Prentice Hall, 2007.
LabVIEW for everyone : graphical programming made easy and fun, J. Travis,
Prentice Hall, 2007.
LabVIEW based advanced instrumentation systems, S. Sumathi, Springer, 2007.
Course Plan
Introduction 8/26
Session 1 9/3-6
What is a “Virtual Instrument” and where would it be used?
LabVIEW Overview
Writing your first LabVIEW VI
LabVIEW Editing & Debugging
Good code development practices in LabVIEW
Skype Conferences
9/11 - Formula Nodes & Math SciptE-field, flux, & potential problems
9/18 - Arrays, Clusters, & Graphs
9/25 - Exam 1 Help Session
9/27 - Exam 1 Due
Session 2 9/29-10/2
Data Acquisition
Instrument Control
Project Management & Reporting
Project Kick-Off
Skype Conferences
10/9 - Project Plans
10/16 - Standards & Interfaces (by class members)
10/23 - Exam 2 Help Session
10/25 - Exam 2 Due
Session 3 10/27-30
Vision & Motion
Visual Studio VI’s
Project Consulting
Skype Conferences
11/6 - Project Consulting
11/13 - Exam 3 Help Session
11/15 - Exam 3 Due
Session 4 11/17-20
Course Summary
Project Consulting
Skype Conferences
12/4 - Project Consulting
12/9-12 Project Presentations (Final Exam)
Learning Objectives
The course is based on a combination of classroom, self-study, and learning community activities. While
the lectures at the early part of the session will be more formal, as the term progresses, more time will be
spent on demonstrations and “consultations” in support of the developing project experience.
The course will primarily use the LabVIEW programming environment since this is currently the de facto
standard for virtual instrument development. The objective is not to provide extensive LabVIEW training,
but to give students appropriate practical experience while applying general instrument and control theory.
Alternative data acquisition and control tools will be introduced during the term.
Projects will be used to both acquire knowledge and sharpen the acquired skills in the development of
realistic instrumentation systems. Good project management practice will be introduced and applied in
the project activities.
After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:
1. Develop software programs called virtual instruments that apply user interfaces, program control,
data structures, file input-output, hardware interfacing, data analysis and signal processing;
2. Experiment with, analyze, and document prototype measurement systems using a computer, plug-in
DAQ interfaces, and bench-level instruments;
3. Identify salient traits of a virtual instrument, and incorporate these traits in their projects;
4. Design professional-quality software applications and graphical user interfaces in LabVIEW
5. Apply systematic programming techniques and engineering management systems, including multi-
layer software design, time-management, and documentation;
6. Develop and present written and oral reports related to the project activities;
7. Independently acquire technical knowledge through reading, practice exercises, and self-initiated re-
Learning Assessments
Exam Problems– Three take-home exam problems are used to assess the students’ understanding of the
course material, and to prepare the students for the project experience. Students will work on these prob-
lems individually then submit their homework electronically, following carefully the instructions for submis-
sion found on the class web page. Problems are due by the date and time specified (as recorded elec-
tronically). Late homework will not be accepted without written medical excuses. Students are encour-
aged to submit example work to the instructor for critique prior to completing a Problem.
Projects– One self-contained measurement and processing system involving hardware and software will
be developed during the second half of the course. The project may be a team or individual activity. The
instructor will lecture and advise to the particular needs of the project. The project allows students to syn-
thesize material learned in this class and previous computer programming classes into a tangible product.
The product will be system that involves measurement, instrumentation control, signal processing, and
data acquisition. To complete the project, each team will prepare a demonstration and a written report. A
student’s project grade will be based on the product’s application of good development practices taught in
the course, the system’s operation, the report, and clear identification of the components contributed by
the student. For the final report, each team must make a power-point presentation on their project. Project
grades will be assigned based on an evaluation sheet that includes both programming and final presenta-
tion elements.
Grade Assignments
Students will be assigned a grade for the course by weighting their performance in the three different as-
sessments. The weighting of each assessment’s contribution to the final grade is:
10% Attendance & Participation
40% Exam Problems
50% Project
Letter grades for the course and for the four learning assessments are associated with the percentage of
total points earned as:
A 93-100%
A- 90 - 92%
B+ 86 - 89%
B 83 - 85%
B- 80 - 82%
C+ 76 - 79%
C 73 - 75%
C- 70 - 72%
D+ 66 - 69%
D 63 - 65%
D- 60 - 62%
F 59% and below
An incomplete grade will only be permitted under extenuating circumstances at the discretion of the in-
structor, and in consultation with the Department Chair.
Class Web Site– A Web site will be created for this class. The web environment will contain information
about the course: syllabus, class notes, along with relevant links and supporting information.
Web Support– Searching the Web for LabVIEW topics is a great way to learn from the experience of oth-
ers. There are numerous courses and training seminars on virtual instrumentation and numerous sites
with example LabVIEW code. Starting at the National Instrument site is a must.
Fellow Students– This course is designed to be a learning community experience. Questions regarding
the course content or the homework should be sent by email to the whole class and instructor, since team
members may be able to provide clear guidance to their peers.
James White Library– The main Andrews University library provides access to numerous digital libraries,
databases, and interlibrary loan programs in support of this course. There are circulating books and few
reference materials that could be consulted, and most of the literature report work, and design study,
should be conducted through use of library resources.
Success Tips
• Perfect attendance, time-management, good study habits, and a positive and cooperative attitude will
greatly increase the likelihood of success in this course.
• This is an upper-level course designed with the expectation that the students are self-motivated learn-
ers, and will delve into the topic deeper than what can be covered in the lectures. The students are re-
sponsible for working all practice exercises and design problems found in the text book.
• Since lecture time is limited, students must take careful notes and review their notes that same day.
• Students should submit example work to the instructor for critique before a Problem is due.
• The instructor is committed to working with the students in achieving their academic and professional
goals. Students needing assistance with the course should make time to visit the instructor by making
an appointment.
• Submitting Problems electronically with filenames that clearly identify the author will help reduce lost
Class Participation
Students are required to attend and participate in all scheduled classes and Skype conferences, arriving
before the start. Students shall be supportive of a learning environment and shall not cause distractions to
other students. As such, the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices is not permitted in class.
Academic Integrity Standards
Students must adhere to the University Policy on Academic Integrity. Students violating these principles
will not receive points for the assignment, project, or examination of offense. All offenses will be reported
and documented according the the University policy and may result in further disciplinary action.
Department Objectives
This course is offered and designed to support the mission of the AU Engineering and Computer Science
Department and the Academic Objectives of the Engineering Degree Program–
1. To prepare students who will be engineers that create products in industries with global, ecologi-
cal and social responsibilities.
2. To prepare students who will be engineers who have advanced degrees that support the devel-
opment of products in industries with global, ecological and social responsibilities.
ENGR 415 Support of Student Outcomes
This course is offered and designed to support the Student Outcomes of the Andrews University Engi-
neering Program–
Our program is designed to develop students with:
a. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
b. an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as interpret data
c. an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic con-
straints such as economic, environmental, social, political, health and safety, manufacturability, and
d. an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
e. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
f. an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
g. an ability to communicate effectively
h. the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, eco-
nomic, environmental, and social context
i. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
j. a knowledge of contemporary issues
k. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering prac-
l. a well-rounded, Christ-centered life perspective including honesty, truthfulness, integrity, and a caring
stewardship of resources
ENGR 415 is designed so the course objectives emphasize Student Outcome k. Specifically:
k. Our graduates will possess an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools nec-
essary for engineering practice.
ENGR 415 students should be able to design software applications and graphical user interfaces in
LabVIEW using good programming techniques, including documentation, and an understanding of
human-computer interactions. During the first lecture, when the instructor asks if there are questions
about the syllabus, make sure you ask an intelligent question about outcome k.
Statement Regarding Americans with Disability Act
If you qualify for accommodation under the American Disabilities Act, please see contact Student Success
in Nethery Hall 100 ( or 269-471-6096) as soon as possible so that accommo-
dations can be arranged.
University Assessments
As part of Andrews University’s commitment to provide the environment and resources needed for suc-
cess, students will be required to participate in course evaluation activities. Students’ responses will not
be identified with the individual and will not influence their computed grades for this course.
University Safety
Andrews University takes the safety of its student seriously. Signs identifying emergency protocol are
posted in buildings.