“Increased interest in alternate energy resources has driven the need to introduce electrical and computer engineering students to material related to efficient energy conversion, energy management and power systems”* .
The Texas Instruments University program recently introduced the Power Management Lab Kit series, a collection of power management labs targeted specifically for engineering students and based on industry-standard evaluation boards. Each lab covers a key power topology and a set of experiments that demonstrate different aspects of power supply design tradeoffs. The series is intended to make it easier for engineering educators to integrate power concepts into their curriculum and labs and for students to learn these concepts in an engaging, interactive way.
We believe that gaining experience with this hands-on approach and learning to apply theory to solve real life application power supply issues will enrich research areas where innovation is needed and can lead to a good career start for students to become knowledgeable power engineers who are industry-ready.
Learn how educators around the world are using the PMLK to engage with their students and make power education relevant and fun.
The PMLK was incorporated into Power Electronics Circuit in the fall of 2015, a graduate-level course offered by Dr. Nicola Femia at the University of Salerno. Dr. Femia’s course combines theory with real-life applications and uses a methodical approach in designing industry standard power supplies. His motivation is to enable his students to understand specific capabilities needed in energy efficient systems. Dr. Femia’s students have the opportunity to spend 15 hours in laboratory activities to understand the tradeoffs between different power supply topologies offered by the PMLK series. They do this by running a set of experiments, and at the end of each experiment the students draw their inferences. They also discuss with their peers in the class and share knowledge just as they would in real life, the same as a power engineer working for a company such as Texas Instruments would do!
The results of a recent student survey at the University of Virginia (UVA) showed that 80 percent of its second-year electrical and computer engineering (ECE) students had strong interest in courses that cover energy conversion topics. To address this interest, Dr. Harry Powell, UVA Associate Professor and Director of Instructional Labs, developed an introductory course in basic power electronics using the PMLK. Dr. Powell was introduced to the PMLK Series at the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE) 2015 conference while visiting the TI booth. Today, this course is offered as a 1.5 hour semester elective and is taught in “studio format” to engineering students. Dr. Powell places emphasis on introducing basic topologies most commonly employed in switching regulators, with a further goal to have a strong hands-on component using the various PMLK boards such as the LDO, Buck, Boost and Buck -Boost.
The lab experience also involves the use of TI’s WEBENCH® Power Design Tool, a free online simulation design resource that is used extensively in the industry. Dr. Powell’s students analyze their power supply designs with the WEBENCH design tool, run simulations and compare with hardware results obtained in the lab. The lab space used for this course is shared with other courses and does not take place in a more traditional “power electronics lab” with all the necessary test equipment available to run transient tests. Dr. Powell designed his own low-cost simple resistive switching device to replace a traditional and expensive “dynamic electronic load” to be used with the experiments. The capabilities of the National Instruments (NI) VirtualBench were also leveraged to replace other test equipment, further reducing lab space requirements. Dr. Powell’s PMLK-based course is a great learning opportunity for students to understand how engineers can solve problems with simple solutions; where there is a will there is a way! At the end of the class they learn strengths and weaknesses of each power system, now prepared and excited to advance to the next level.
Read Dr Powell's ASEE 2016 Paper: An Introductory Course in Energy Efficient Power Regulator Design
*Quote provided by Prof. Harry Powell, University of Virginia
Background: Harry Powell ; Associate Professor and Director of Instructional Labs
Harry Powell received the B.S. in Electrical Engineering the University of Virginia in 1978, a M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2006, and the Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 2011. Dr. Powell spent over 20 years in industry designing computer controlled automated systems before returning to academia in 2001. He was appointed to the faculty in 2013, and teaches courses in electric and electronic circuit analysis, electromagnetic energy conversion, embedded computing, and the 4th year Major Design Experience.