Controls & Instrumentation Lab
The Controls and Instrumentation Lab at UW-Stout is used by junior and senior engineering students in all disciplines. Controls and Instrumentation, and Fluid Mechanics are major courses that utilize the lab. Students learn industrial control systems starting with basic wiring and schematic reading to understand the underlying logic of a machine programming process, then move on to industrial sensors along with fluid power principles. Students finish with a Programmable Logic Control (PLC) course where they program a machine operation on their own and have the opportunity to wire it on trainers to see how the program runs in real life.
Students work on different equipment in the lab, including an operator training station. The station has a Rockwell Automation platform of programmable logic controllers and human-machine interfaces. Students also have access to industrial sensors, temperature control trainers, safety device trainers, servo motion trainers, stepper motor trainers, variable frequency drive trainers, along with fluid power trainers, and electro-mechanical trainers. UW-Stout is always improving the space with the creation of new lab trainers or new equipment.
"This space gives students a fully immersed learning experience with the use of the flipped classroom," said Professor Paul Craig. "Scheduled class time is composed of mostly lab work and very little in-person lecture. This space gives the students hands-on learning experience."
Ian Hall and Jordan Roessler, seniors in the Mechanical Engineering program, agreed the Controls and Instrumentation Lab has been invaluable to their studies. “We benefit from the space because we are able to see all aspects of a lab or project," Hall and Roessler said. "This lab offers the ultimate way to perform hands-on learning, and is a very open and collaborative environment."