Process control equipment solutions provider Comtest has recently completed the refurbishment of Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT’s) Electrical Engineering Department’s Electronic Engineering laboratory.
The refurbishment project, which was finalised and fully functional by the second semester of 2017, entailed replacing old and outdated equipment with Tektronix AFG 1022 arbitrary generators, Tektronix TBS 1052B-EDU digital storage oscilloscopes, and GW Instek GPE 3323 direct current power supply. Since its completion, the lab has proven an asset to TUT, states Comtest.
“The new equipment presents value-add for TUT educators, as it enables lecturers to “globally manage and monitor students individually during laboratory sessions”, says Comtest account manager Darius Opperman.
He explains that the new instruments can be tracked while students perform tasks, enabling lecturers to not only monitor student progress almost in real time but also update all firmware at once using Tektronix SmartLAB software. Opperman suggests that these features “represent an appreciable return on investment for TUT”.
The Tektronix AFG 1022 arbitrary generators offer the functionality of three generators and a frequency counter in one device. It has the capabilities of a 25 MHz function generator, 12.5 MHz pulse generator, 14-bit arbitrary waveform generator and 200 MHz counter.
The Tektronix TBS 1052B-EDU is designed specifically for application in schools and universities. It uses a courseware system that enables educators to integrate teaching materials into the equipment through the system. Course information is presented on the oscilloscope display and can be used to provide step-by-step instructions, background theory or by students to document their laboratory work. The newly implemented GPE-X323 also features output power from 192 W to 217 W, three independent isolated output channels, high resolution, low noise, high reliability and compact size, greatly adding to the learning experience of TUT students.
The newly refurbished laboratory currently caters to about 450 electronics and design project students, with a capacity to accommodate 42 students for every electrical measurement experiment and project laboratory session. The university has found that peer mentoring has proven a successful teaching method in the new lab. It currently enlists the assistance of two undergraduate students to mentor, monitor and assist electronics 1, 2 and 3, as well as design project students, during laboratory classes.
TUT undergraduate students and labo- ratory mentors Jackson Chokoe and Remmington Seima state that the upgraded equipment has been well received by students and educators.
Seima adds that the maintenance of the new lab equipment is also much easier, while Chokoe says that the new scopes also measure noise, which the old equip- ment did not. “Another advantage is that tests completed by students are uploaded directly to the server once completed,” he adds.
While TUT admits that it took some time for students to get used to the new equipment, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment associate dean and head of department Professor Josiah Lange Munda explains that the upgrades will enable the university to produce more electrical engineering graduates whose studies are relevant to the field. He states that TUT would like every laboratory on campus to be like this one, equipped with high-quality equipment to the benefit and improvement of students.
Comtest concludes that it is proud to have been associated with the TUT laboratory refurbishment and hopes to be involved in future technology projects to benefit future generations.