May 30, 2020

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Students Can Take Home Electronics Materials

College of Southern Maryland students who take DC Electronics (ELT 1010) at the Prince Frederick Campus check out the lab materials they were given the first night of class, as adjunct faculty member Bill Luyster explains how the materials allow them to conduct their weekly labs at home rather than traveling to campus.

Dominion Energy and College of Southern Maryland are working together to provide CSM students with a time-saving innovation — a box of electronics materials to assist in their studies.

Associate professor Bill Luyster introduced the students in his beginning electronics class to this “lab in a box” or what he calls a hands-on learning environment, during the first night of class for DC Electronics (ELT 1010). The class , which started Sept. 6 at the Prince Frederick Campus, is a web-hybrid course, which means parts of it are conducted and parts are conducted in class.


College of Southern Maryland associate professor Bill Luyster distributed materials conveniently packaged in take-home boxes for students in his electronics class to use this semester.

“Normally for this class, you’d have to come in a couple of times a week,” Mr. Luyster told the students as he gave each one a box of materials. With the equipment, Mr. Luyster said, students will be able to do lab work at home and will only need to go 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.

Every box included Multisim, a National Instruments software program that allows students to construct virtual circuits and simulate how they perform on a computer. The box also contained a Digilent “bug box and breadboard,” so named because early integrated chips looked like bugs, and temporary circuits were first constructed by nailing components to a board. Using these items, students are able to construct the actual circuit they simulated in Multisim. Also, they received a multimeter from Vellerman, which Mr. Luyster describes as “the Swiss Army knife” of electronic technicians. Finally, the boxes had Analog Discovery 2 from Ni and Digilent, a lab instrumentation package that measures and tests electronic circuits.

Except for the Analog Discovery 2, students will keep the rest of the contents at the end of the course and will be able to use them in future CSM courses.

The materials were paid for with a Dominion Energy $45,000 grant, part of which was used to update the electronics lab at the college’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.”

At the first night of class, students reacted positively to the box of lab materials. Tim Burkhart of Lusby liked that he will be able to do his lab work at home on his own schedule. “You tend to learn better when you have to work it out for yourself,” Mr. Burkhart said. “And it gives me more time to iron out the details.”

Courtney Chase of Great Mills started attending CSM after serving in the US 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,” Prof. 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,” Mr. 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 CSM’s website.

For more about the College of Southern Maryland, visit its Leader member page.

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