Winning educators demonstrate creative engineering instruction

Vernier Software & Technology named Jonathan Aurnou and Peter Shimer from the University of California Los Angeles, and Nelson Nunalee from Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, North Carolina, as the winners of the 2013 Vernier Engineering Contest. These winning educators were selected for demonstrating creative teaching using Vernier sensors with National Instruments (NI) LabVIEW™ software.

The winning team of college educators and the winning high school teacher received $1,000 in cash, a $3,000 gift certificate for Vernier technology, and $1,500 toward expenses to attend the 2013 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

In “Transiting Exoplanet: The Laboratory Experiment,” Aurnou and Shimer put a five-inch globe incandescent bulb in the center of a turntable and a “planet” out near the edge. Students set up their Vernier Light Sensors and recorded transit data as the table rotated. The students wrote NI LabVIEW programs to acquire and stack multiple transits of the exoplanet and then used their data to calculate the radius of the exoplanet using theories developed in class.

In “Virtual Trombone,” a group of Nunalee’s engineering students used NI LabVIEW software with Vernier sensors and applied mathematical functions, critical thinking, and problem solving to create a working demonstration of the virtual instrument.

To learn more, visit To learn more about the 2014 Engineering Contest, visit