Ed Doering: Problems & Explorations in Microelectronics with NI myDAQ and Multisim

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Practical experience remains a critical component of engineering education to reinforce fundamental objectives and concepts. Circuit simulators provide one way for electrical engineering students to gain hands-on experience with circuit behavior, especially real-time interactive simulators such as National Instruments (NI) Multisim. However, nothing replaces hands-on experience with real hardware. A traditional electronics laboratory helps students learn how to use instrumentation, take measurements, and observe circuits in action. However, this experience traditionally occurs only at a specific place and time. Recent advances in computer-based instrumentation coupled with low-cost USB-based data acquisition devices such as the NI myDAQ enable student learning to extend beyond the traditional laboratory setting to a students preferred environment and pace of learning.

Faculty wishing to incorporate portable instrumentation into their analog electronics courses will find in this text forty end-of-chapter-style problems covering basic concepts in diodes, operational amplifiers, bipolar junction transistors (BJTs), and enhancement-mode MOSFETs. Each problem guides students through a three-way solution process of analysis, simulation, and measurement. Solving a given problem three ways empowers students to triangulate on the correct result by mutual reinforcement while simultaneously improving their analytical and laboratory skills. Short video tutorials integrate closely with the problems to demonstrate relevant software and measurement techniques. Pilot tests of the three-way approach confirm that students who worked to harmonize each part of the their three-way solution elevated their confidence in their own analytical and lab skills.

Nearly every problem requests at least one common numerical value for comparison among the three methods. The percent difference between simulated and analytical results as well as measured-to-analytical and simulatedto- measurement results indicates the degree to which the student has achieved a correct solution. Students also begin to develop an appreciation for the differences that can emerge among the three methods due to analysis approximations, simulation model mismatch, and temperature effects.