Beginning with the fall 2008 school year, the Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis opened a spacious and well-equipped new state of the art teaching laboratory. The Electrical & Electronic Circuits Laboratory provides students valuable hands-on experience with electrical circuit design and computer simulation, as well as construction and operation of a wide variety of electrical and electronic components used in today's high-technology environment.
The Bryan Hall, Room 306 laboratory comprises 16 stations equipped with the latest electronic instruments, including oscilloscopes, function generators, spectrum analyzers, power supplies, computers, and digital multimeters. The computers at all stations provide electronic circuit simulation using both Multisim and PSPICE in order to allow run-time interactive design in addition to traditional graphic output. This equipment is used in ESE 141, 230 and 331.
The Bryan Hall, Room 316 laboratory, comprising 12 stations, is equipped with the state of the art National Instruments NI-Elvis II teaching platform and a dual-channel USB-based oscilloscope. NI-Elvis II provides the functionality of 12 traditional test instruments in an integrated package with easy to use graphical user interfaces. These extremely versatile instruments are also tailored to specific laboratory exercises using the LabVIEW programming language. By using lab exercise specific instruments, students are able to focus on mastering the concepts instead of dealing with the complexity of traditional equipment operation. In addition, NI-Elvis II is tightly coupled with the electronic circuit simulator, Multisim, making it easy to draw schematics, simulate electronic circuits, and compare results to measurements made on actual circuits built on the integrated prototyping board. This equipment is used in ESE 331, 488 and 498.
Every workstation in both of these modern laboratories offers the full complement of powerful engineering software tools such as LabVIEW, Matlab, OrCAD, PSpice and Multisim. In addition, instruction during the lab is facilitated by broadcasting demonstrations and lecture material from the central workstation to the student workstations. Also, common problems encountered by students during the lab are easily resolved by timely sharing of their workstation screen with all other workstations during a professor's debugging visit. This allows all students to simultaneously benefit from an instructor's troubleshooting tips and therefore, greatly enhances the professor's teaching effectiveness and the laboratory learning experience.