LabVIEW and Learning


    Kyla C. Ollie

Digital Signal Processing Laboratory

STEER/NSF Program Summer 2003

California State University, Los Angeles






In the Digital Signaling Processing Laboratory, teachers learn to construct virtual instruments that process, filter, digitize and display data and sound.  The teachers trained on the new LabVIEW 7.0 program to construct a virtual equalizer that controlled a CD playerÂ’s volume and frequency outputs through a computerÂ’s soundcard.

Learning the icon-based programming language, LabVIEW 7.0 will result in the teachers utilizing the program in the classroom to explain sound waves and frequencies and to visualize the digital process of sound transmission.  The result of this, for students, will be an increased knowledge of digitized sound waves, thorough understanding of frequency and enhance interest in engineering, science and technology.


II.               Introduction

The Digital Signal Processing Laboratory at CSULA utilizes the icon-based programming software, LabVIEW 7.0 to construct various virtual instruments.  The virtual instruments (VIs) are the digital representation of physical instruments.  Using the LabVIEW program, students will be able to design, program and construct virtually any physical equipment.  Doing this will enable them to test various wiring (programming) options in the VI.  This will make the construction of physical projects, such as robotic projects, easier to design and wire correctly.  This will reduce the cost of building several prototypes, which may not work properly or at all.


III.             The Virtual Equalizer Project

In the Digital Signal Processing Laboratory, teachers were able to learn LabVIEW 7.0 in order to produce programs that acted in the same manner as physical instruments.  LabVIEW is primarily utilized to enable the user to construct virtual instruments to be tested before they are physically built.  The final project assigned to the STEER Teachers in the DSP Laboratory entailed building an elaborate virtual equalizer based upon an undeveloped equalizer.  It gave us the foundation to design and construct a Virtual Equalizer that would be suitable for classroom use and demonstrations of various functions and or subjects related to Math and Science. 

The Virtual Equalizer that I constructed can be utilized for a variety of lessons in both Mathematics and Science. First, in science classes, the filters used in building the equalizer either blocked or passed a certain frequency range. This allows the program to demonstrate the wide range of isolated frequencies,


Example of a Bandpass filter


signal strength and intensity, and the display the data in charts and graphs including 3-D waveform graphs. 



Second, in mathematics classes, sound and frequency data output could display sine and cosine wave charts and graphs.  Students could manipulate the inputs and view the changes of the outputs. 

Lastly, the program could be used for student laboratory reports and projects to display data in numerous formats, analyze the data they have gathered using a wide range of statistics and signal processing functions.


IV.            Project Goals and Objectives

The goals and objectives of the project are to provide students with an alternative learning tool, enhance the learning curve of students in the various areas of mathematics and science, and increase their interest in engineering and technology.  

LabVIEW can provide an alternative learning tool for students, who can design graphical programming solutions for their math and science problems and laboratory experiments on their personal computers. Doing various assignments and projects, they will learn and comprehend the necessary material faster and with greater clarity.  The greatest goal or objective that this program could accomplish is to instill in students the wish to further their education beyond high school and possibly begin a career in the fields of engineering and technology.


V.              Implementing the Curriculum Revisions

Implementing the use of LabVIEW into the curriculum can be done easily with the help of the LabVIEW Basics Interactive CD during computer lab and using visual aids, such as PowerPoint, in the introduction and examples of the program capabilities and Excel to display manipulated data.  Each Student can acquire the same information as a whole, them learning the material and LabVIEW program at their own pace in the computer lab.


VI.            Instructional Resources to be Used

The instruction resources that will be needed in the classroom are the student version of LabVIEW 7.0 for a minimum of five (5) computers to a maximum of twenty (20) computers, copies of LabVIEW Basics Interactive CD-ROM, audio cables and sound cards for the computers.  In addition to the physical equipment, a classroom set of PowerPoint lecture notes, practice guide and laboratory assignment.  The lecture notes will lay the foundation of LabVIEW and its capabilities.  The LabVIEW Basics Interactive CD-ROM, practice guide and laboratory assignments will give the students a working level of skill to complete a final project.


VII.           Program Support Requirements And Budget

The cost of some of the software that we used during the summer could be less expensive.  We, in the DSP Lab, were fortunate that the student version of the LabVIEW 7.0 ($100) does not cost nearly as much as the of the other laboratories' software.  Upon further research for the purchase price of LabVIEW, two site licenses in an academic setting were found.  The first site license package is called LabVIEW Full Development System and cost $4,995 for a department deployment of the software. The second site license package is called LabVIEW Remote Panel Server.  The cost of purchasing LabVIEW Remote Panel Servers License for five (5) users is $295.  The cost of purchasing the remote Panel Server License for 20 twenty users is $1,195.  The advantage of using the second option is that it can be utilized over a web browser and it does not require LabVIEW to be installed on the computer.  Additional, the students can make remote connections to the schoolÂ’s computer lab server and complete assignments on their own computer.


VIII.         Student Outcomes

Today, students in middle school have the capacity to learn so much more than teachers can provide them.  They just need to be given information in a fun and stimulating manner.  They also have the ability to learn computer programs faster than developers can produce them.  LabVIEW should be quite easy for them to learn and incorporate into their homework and projects.  Using this program in the classroom and at home will help students retain the information that they have studied.  It will help them to organize their thoughts and begin to see how math and science concepts are related or connected to various aspects of their lives.


IX.            References

1.       National Instruments – LabVIEW, Retrieved from the Internet 8/17/03, 

2.       “Joint MAP Equalization and Channel Estimation for Frequency-Selective and Frequency-Flat Fast Fading Channels”, Retrieved from the Internet 8/17/03, /sites/default/files/centers/berp/docs/Joint%20MAP%20Equalization%20and%Channel%20Estimation.pdf. 

3.       Beyon, Jeffrey Y., LabVIEW Programming, Data Acquisition and Analysis, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2001. 

4.       Francassa, Anne, “Visual Imagery Boost Learning”, Retrieve from the Internet 8/20/02, schools/0104/24/c03-215921/htm.



1.      Research Ethics

To support the issue of Research Ethics, all the STEER program teachers attended a seminar on Ethics in Research.  The seminar given by Dr. Jeffrey Y. Beyon included Engineer Ethics and the NCEES Model Rules of Professional Conduct.  The most important factor that we took away from the seminar is that public safety is the most important in all research.


2.      Value of the RET

Primarily I would tell them that if they ever have the opportunity to participate in a program such as the STEER program, take it.  The program allowed the teachers in the program a small taste of the world of engineering and technology.  We rarely have the opportunity to experience technological advancement on the ground level in engineering research.


Through this program I have developed a skill that I can pass along to my students and provide them with an opportunity of see with their own eyes how the math and science in which they are learning, is being applied to real projects that they themselves can construct and build upon.


3.      Overview of the RET

There were several laboratories to work in during the summer - Digital Signal Processing (DSP) Lab, MATIES Lab, and the SPACE Lab.  Chosen to work in the DSP Lab and I was able to expand my knowledge in Digital Signal Transmissions.  The main skills that I will take away from this program will be the LabVIEW 7.0 icon based programming skills, technical writing skills, and advanced techniques in Microsoft Office programs.