History of the course Sensors and Transducers (currently Transducers and Measurement Systems)

“Starting with the year 1962, at the Faculty of Power Engineering of the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest (IPB), the Automatic Control department was founded, starting with the 3rd year of studies, with a single group of students, from the electrical profile faculties of the institute, who opted for this specialization.

Among the courses included in the first studies plan, started by Prof. Dr. Ing. Corneliu Penescu, then vice-rector of IPB, starting that year was the course of Technical Measurements and Transducers (MTT), course which was thus born simultaneously with the beginning of the Automatic Control specialization in romanian higher education. This is the predecessor of the current Sensors and Transducers course from the studies plan of the Automatic Control and Computers faculty, Automatic Control specialization.

The above exposed situation lasted until the year 1967, when the Faculty of Automatic Control and Computers of IPB was established. The course Technical Measurements and Transducers was kept in the same position of the newly established faculty studies plan and moreover, represented a building block of all subsequent revisions of the plan until the year 1990. O minor change in the course title took place at the beginning of the 80s to Measurements and Transducers (MT), without affecting the content. It can be stated that this was one of the courses with the longest continuity within the Faculty of Automatic Control and Computers.

The didactic activities carried out for Measurements and Transducers and their contents:
–       course in the 5th and 6th semesters, 4hrs/week;
–       applications in the 5th and 6th semesters, 2hrs/week;
–       project work in the 6th semester, 1hr/week.

The course content, including at the beginning mainly topics relating to electrical measurements and electro-mechanic transducers, has constantly evolved in tandem with the scientific and technical progress and arrived at the following structure:

Part 1. Fundamentals of measurement science, including: generic metrology notions, measurement scales, units and references, measurement methods and instruments, measurement quality indicators, error analysis and evaluation, results presentation, general characteristics of measurement instruments.

Part 2. Electrical and electronic measurements, including: analog measurements of electrical quantities in static and dynamic regimes, including related instrumentation, analog digital conversion and digital measurement apparatus, complex apparatus for advanced measurements and signal analysis, microprocessor-based equipment, intelligent measurements.

Part 3. Transducers for industrial automation, this part dealing with: general characteristics and performance, structure and main components of analog and digital transducers, main transducer types for electrical quantities, geometric quantities, mechanic quantities, temperature, humidity, chemical processes, radiation, principles for transducer selection.

The laboratory platforms were also steadily developed. After the first years, when the practical applications were held on a reduced set of laboratory platforms, in halls of building D, IPB campus on Polizu street then in rooms of building 303, in the year 1972 after the commissioning of the ED building of the new campus, for the practical applications related to this course several rooms on the 3rd floor were assigned, which are still used to this purpose for Sensors and Transducers. At the same time funds were made available to purchase adequate furniture and a part of the necessary laboratory supply and equipment. Afterwards, through the efforts of the didactic personnel, the matterial base was extended both by purchasing local and foreign produced equipment and by ingenious models built by the faculty members themselves. This led, in the 80s, to 24 representative laboratory platforms for the course purposes.

Project work was targeted at giving students the competence to solve, according to the methodology employed by design engineers, some problems related to designing and building transducers. So, based on assignments including functional and constructive characteristics and  imposed performance, students were asked to assemble projects consisting of a written report, presentations, computations annexes, diagrams for certain types of transducers for quantities such as: displacement, rotation speed, temperature, frequency, etc.

A good implementation of the described didactic activities was possible due to a group of valuable faculty members, among which:
Prof. Dr. Ing. Gabriel Ionescu – group leader, Prof. Dr. Ing. Valentin Sgârciu, Prof. Dr. Ing. Dan Popescu, Prof. Dr. Ing. Radu Vărbănescu, with consistent activity relating to this course in all activities. One should also mention Prof. Dr. Ing. Bogdan Droasca and Prof. Dr. Ing. Ion Hohan who started their academic career in this discipline and continued afterwards for a long period of time. The late dr. ing. Ion Palcu had a valuable activity, unfortunately of short duration. A special mention goes to Prof. Dr. Ing. Radu Dobrescu who, even being responsible for other courses, had a remarkable contribution to the development of the Measurements and Transducers course. There are many other important faculty members from the current department of Automatic Control and Industrial Informatics which held classes or contributed through other means – Prof. Dr. Ing. Traian Ionescu, currently department head, Prof. Dr. Ing. Mihai Ceaparu, etc. The faculty members were also involved in a constant effort of ellaborating didactic material, being co-authors of many books, laboratory handbooks, problem collections, published within the University Politehnica or in important publishing houses such as “Didactica si Pedagogica”, “Tehnica”, etc. The didactic activity was well appreciated by colleagues as well as by the students, many of whom decided to finalize their studies thorugh theses in this field, with the above-mentioned persons as coordinators.

Many research, development and industry specialists contributed as associated academic personnel, thereby linking the academic environment to the realities of the industry.

The faculty members working in this field had a valuable research activity on topics relating to measurement and transducers which resulted in many articles and published talks as well as engaging students in such activities.

Starting with the academic year 1990-1991, once new studies plans were developed, the course Measurements and Transducers ended in the previous form, its fundamental components were split among two course:
Experimental data processing, 1st year, Prof. Dr. Ing. Valentin Sgarciu.
Sensors and Transducers, 3rd year, Prof. Dr. Ing. Gabriel Ionescu – until his retirement in 2001 and afterwards Prof. Dr. Ing. Valentin Sgarciu…”

Prof. Dr. Ing. G. Ionescu
Bucharest, August 2006