STEM Students Learning With Small-Scale Replicas of Real-World Systems

National Instruments has worked in collaboration with educational suppliers to provide classrooms with small-scale replicas of real-world systems, such as roll-chassis dynamometers and electrical smart grids. These tiny systems, called NI miniSystems, present engineering students instant relevance to complex math and science theories, and at the same time prepares them for problems they will face upon entering the field. The NI miniSystems connect with NI educational hardware and LabVIEW system design software.

In the past, Lab platforms have been too inaccessible for widespread use in classrooms and were often disconnected from the professional tools that are actually used in research and industry. Using the integrated hardware and software approach of graphical system design, NI miniSystems eliminate the cost, time and space barriers that limit educators' abilities to overcome theory-only education by engaging students through hands-on experimentation. NI miniSystems give first-year university or college students a tangible connection between their studies and their future jobs.

With the NI miniSystems, National Instruments wants to encourage students and teachers to "do engineering" in the classroom and to experiment with the same tools professionals are using in the industry. Students have a hard time getting excited about engineering or science classes when these are just about theory and lack real-wrold context.

Learn more about NI miniSystems and watch the video below. If you know of students and/or educators using this technology in the classroom, encourage them to share their experiences in this forum.

Katherine Bonfante is Senior Web Editor for and Email her at or check out her Google+ profile.