Grant from Dominion Energy Funded the Student Materials
The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) has partnered with Dominion Energy to provide CSM students with a time-saving innovation — a box of materials to assist in their electronics studies.
Associate Professor Bill Luyster introduced his beginning electronics students to this “lab in a box” or what he calls a hands-on learning environment (HOLE), on the first night of class for DC Electronics (ELT 1010). The course, which began Sept. 6 at the Prince Frederick Campus, is described as a web-hybrid course.
“Normally for this class, you’d have to come in a couple of times a week,” Luyster said, as he handed each student a box of materials at the first class. With the distributed equipment, Luyster said, students will be able to do their lab work on their own at home, and they will only need to travel to the college for the lecture portion of the course.
“We’re going to put everything you need and more in your hands,” he said.
Each box included Multisim, a software program from National Instruments that allows students to construct virtual circuits and simulate how they perform on a computer. The box also contained a “bug box and breadboard” from Digilent, so named because early integrated chips looked like bugs, and temporary circuits were literally constructed by nailing components to a board. With these items students can construct the actual circuit they simulated in Multisim. In addition, the students received a multimeter from Vellerman, which Luyster describes as “the Swiss Army knife” of electronic technicians. Finally, the boxes included Analog Discovery 2 from Ni and Digilent, a laboratory instrumentation package for measuring and testing of electronic circuits.
Except for the Analog Discovery 2, the students will be allowed to keep the rest of the box contents at the end of the course and use them potentially in future CSM courses.
Funding for the materials came from a Dominion Energy $45,000 grant, part of which was used to update the electronics lab at CSM’s Leonardtown Campus.
“Dominion Energy believes it is important to encourage and enable students to learn and gain experience with the advanced technologies they will use in the workplace,” said Mike Frederick, vice president of LNG Operations at Dominion Energy Cove Point. “It is one reason why we provided funding for these tools — to enable the teaching.”
Student reaction to the box of lab materials was positive the first night of class. Tim Burkhart of Lusby, liked the idea of doing his lab work at home on his own schedule. “You tend to learn better when you have to work it out for yourself,” Burkhart said. “And it gives me more time to iron out the details.”
Courtney Chase of Great Mills started at CSM after serving in the U.S. Marines for four years as an electrical systems technician. “I wasn’t sure how they were going to handle the web-hybrid version of this class. I was pretty happy we got some stuff to take home,” she said.
Professor and Interim Division Chair of Business and Technology Division Bernice Brezina said that giving out the lab materials was a way for CSM to accommodate programs to better fit students’ lives. “It gives them the best of both worlds — hands-on learning and the flexibility of online-hybrid classes,” Brezina said. “It means that students can do some of their projects and labs out of class, and there are no additional costs for them. Everything they need is right here.”
“I’m both excited and anxious to see how this plays out with the students,” Luyster said. “I certainly wish I would have had this kind of active hands-on experience as freshman in college rather than a video lecture in hall with 200 others students.”
For information on business and technology programs like electronics at CSM, visit www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/credit/academic-divisions/bat/.