Virtual Instruments and Control Systems (VICS) Workshop
September 25 – 27, 2008 – Southeast Community College, Lincoln, NE
David Vernier (Vernier Software & Technology, Beaverton, OR)
Sam Swartley (Vernier Sotware & Technology, Beaverton, OR)
Kent Reinhard (Southeast Community College, Lincoln, NE)
Dwain Desbien (Estrella Mountain Community College, Avondale, AZ)
Tom O’Kuma (Lee College, Baytown, TX)

This workshop is intended for those who are teaching students who plan to become engineers. Recent microcomputer-based laboratory (MBL) tools coupled with an activity-based physics approach provides a better method of teaching physics to future engineers by enabling the teaching/learning process to build on students’ direct experiences in the physics classroom/laboratory or studio. The Vernier Software & Technology SensorDAQ, LabPro and LabQuest interfaces along with various sensors, connectors, and LabVIEW software have been used extensively in MBLs to collect data or to control digital or analog lines. Additionally, they have developed a number of sensors and activities appropriate for pre-engineering education (see:

Vernier interfaces (LabPro, SensorDAQ, or LabQuest) all can be used with a wide variety of sensors. These interfaces all have ports that can be used to collect analog data from sensors such as temperature, force, etc. and ports to collect digital data from such sensors as motion detectors, radiation monitors, and rotary motion sensors. They also can control digital and analog output lines.

All of these interfaces can be programmed in LabVIEW. LabVIEW is a powerful graphic programming tool from National Instruments. It is used extensively in engineering and research, which makes this workshop appropriate for teachers and their students. Knowledge of LabVIEW is often a skill that helps students find their first job after college. Programs developed with LabVIEW are called Virtual Instruments (VIs). LabVIEW makes creating a data acquisition and control program relatively easy and even makes possible features such as web publishing. Feedback and control systems, such as temperature-controlled environments, stepper motors that respond to a sensor input, or alarms that go off when sensor limits are exceeded can become manageable projects.

This hands-on workshop will provide participants with an introduction to some of the basics of LabVIEW. This includes the LabVIEW environment, features, and dataflow programming so that participants can create simple applications that acquire, process, display, and store real-world data using the SensorDAQ/LabPro/LabQuest and sensors. The workshop will also include Real Time (RT) analog mode, Non-Real Time (NRT) analog mode, photogates, motion – both rotary and analog, digital output and the Digital Control Unit (DCU), and Analog Out. Participants will gain experience in using and modifying existing Vernier VIs, and then get a chance to learn how to develop their own VI.

There will also be an opportunity to share and discuss issues relating to implementation and to teaching physics more effectively. There will be extensive discussions on how to use various strategies, tools, and tactics to overcome problems and barriers. Discussion and information on the needs of the technological workforce and its connection with the activities of this workshop will also be presented. The workshop leaders have years of experience in developing and refining curriculum for introductory physics students.

The local host will be Kent Reinhard who has implemented MBL and LabVIEW into his physics program at Southeast Community College.


Click here to download description

Click here to apply