Lab Course Go Virtual Essay

631 words - 3 pages

Lab oourses go virtual
Thomas F. Edgar
University of Texas
number of universities have main-
tained a dedicated laboratory course
as part of the process control
sequence, but those numbers have
been shrinking due to the high resource
requirements of lab courses and the pressure to
reduce the number of hours in the engineering
curriculum. While some chemical engineering
departments run a junior measurement lab and
a senior unit-operations lab, many now operate
only one lab in the senior year which may
incorporate control-related experiments. Labo-
ratory courses are evolving, and new directions
are being examined at specific ...view middle of the document...

Remote laboratory capability is available in
the laboratories at the University of Tennessee
at Chattanooga [UT-C], the University of Texas
at Austin, and the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, as well as other schools. The UT-C
laboratory station's computer operates equip-
ment (such as pumps, valves, heaters, and
relays), collects the data [such as pressure, tem-
perature, and concentration) and sends data to
the user via Internet. From the Web browser,
students can link to tutorials, pictures, live
videos, and past data files related to the equip-
ment set-up. Graphs of the time-progress of all
process variables are also separately available
on the Web. These Web pages can be viewed
simultaneously by other students or instructors
in real time, with the raw data archived for sub-
sequent viewing and analysis.
New directions are being examined at
specific universities, combining elements
of simulation and also distance learning.
rarely find engineers in the field adjusting valve
positions, flow rates, and temperatures. Typi-
cally, this is done using the computer interfaces
of distributed control systems.
The fourth-year unit-operations laboratory at
Texas Tech University is emulating this practice
by producing computer-generated simulations

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