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This program is designed to accomplish four things:

  • Teach students the fundamentals of instrumentation, data acquisition, instrument controls and automation across a wide variety of sectors and industries to support scientific, industrial, technological  and commercial applications.
  • Teach students the hardware and software applications that support many commercial offerings in the market today.
  • Provide students the tools to objectively evaluate their instrumentation and data acquisition needs with a view to developing in-house solutions to meet those needs.
  • Give students the practical skills—and tactile experience—of developing and programming robust and industrial-grade data acquisition, control and instrumentation algorithms using commonly available software.

The course will be based on the use of (the ubiquitous) Microsoft EXCEL® as the primary platform for data acquisition and control instead of the highly proprietary and expensive software platforms offered by many commercial vendors.

There is a concerted push at all levels of government to expand manufacturing and technological deployment. Most industrial, manufacturing or even consumer technologies rely on some type of instrumentation and/or automation to reduce labor cost, ensure quality, and enhance productivity. The critical underpinning of every automation effort is a data acquisition system — the composite of physical and logical components that monitor and alter the operating state of a process to achieve some desired objectives.

Instrumentation and control provide the gateway to robotic applications across a variety of fields. These applications can be very expensive because of the use of proprietary technologies by many commercial vendors, and the [understandable] need to lock customers into long-term service agreements that continue to generate revenue for the hardware/software vendors.

In this course, students will learn how to develop and deploy data acquisition, instrumentation, automation and control systems using no more than an EXCEL® spreadsheet. The goal of this course is to make instrumentation and automation as affordable and as accessible as possible, especially for small organizatons with limited budgets.  In addition to covering new control/automation projects, the course will also teach students how to develop control and automation applications to retrofit existing (or even outdated) equipment, thereby resulting in significant savings for their businesses. 

The goal of this course is for students to be able to use currently available software (e.g. an EXCEL® spreadsheet) and off-the-shelf barebones hardware (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc.) to develop very elegant and complex real-world mechatronic, robotic and automation applications with minimal effort and at very low cost. Enterprising students could develop “packaged solutions” that would be of interest to companies, organizations and individuals that need help with specific control and/or automation problems.  The course assumes NO prior knowledge of instrumentation or automation but assumes some basic familiarity with the use of spreadsheets.