How To Create A Virtual Lab

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Interactive Simulation of Engineering

Experiments Inspired by Game-Design

http://www.wmich.edu/mae/research_labs/vms_lab/

D. Litynski

1

, P. Ari-Gur

1

, P. Thannhauser

1

, R. Rabiej

1

, P.

Ikonomov

1

, J. Johnston

2

, T. Bayne

1

,

S. Hoin

1

, MM Hassan

3

1

Western Michigan University

2

Muskegon Community College

3

Louisiana State University

1

Interactive Simulation of Engineering Experiments Inspired by Game-Design

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CEAS

Modern 265-acre campus, 5 km south of main campus

Includes a Business Technology and Research Park --

designated as a Michigan SmartZone and is home

to companies in the life sciences, information

technology and advanced engineering.

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Funding for the Project

This project was funded by

Hewlett Packard

's Higher Education HP Technology

for Teaching Grant program (2008-10)

T

he

HP Catalyst

program (2010-13)

The

National Science Foundation (NSF)

grant

number 1140348 (2012-2015)

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Concrete and asphalt video

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Outline

Background

Why Virtual Lab?

Goals and Objectives

Design of the Virtual Lab

o

Experiments and Data Collection

o

Videos

o

Simulations

o

Lab Manual

Conclusions

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Background

Despite the growing need for engineers in the

US workforce, there has not been a significant

increase in engineering degrees awarded =>

NSF foresees that the US workforce

will not

have enough engineers in the future.

Engineering is a very demanding curriculum.

Even when students begin their studies as

undergraduate engineering majors,

the

graduation rate is less than 50%.

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Why Virtual Lab?

Lab exercises reinforce the

lecture and address the

needs of certain learning

styles However…

Material science processes may take

several

hours (or days)

to complete in the real lab.

They require

major time commitment

from both students and instructors.

They are

costly.

An error in the real lab can become a

major safety hazard.

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by Game-Design

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The ‘millennial student’ grew up with computer games,

like

Nintendo

and social and academic interaction like

Second Life;

3-D virtual reality presents an

attractive,

effective way to learn

. The millennial student feels

comfortable in cyberspace.

Virtual Laboratory is more accessible to disabled

students.

Virtual laboratory can be used in recruiting K-12

events.

Why Virtual Lab? (cont’d)

Simulation by Emiliya Ikonomova

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Goals of the VL Project

Transform teaching and improve classroom

learning with innovative use of technology.

Improve success rate in materials science

sophomore-level course

Transform the actual lab experience to a

virtual lab by combining virtualization,

applications, concepts and technology

Use for outreach to a younger audience

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Project Development Steps

Design real lab experiments.

Perform the experiments in the lab.

Produce video-tapes of the experiments.

Develop VL modules (simulations) using

videotapes and data.

Produce a manual for the Virtual Lab.

Train VL instructors.

Assess the Enhancement of Student Learning

(and further improve the lab)

Disseminate to other sites in the US and around

the globe.

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Video Annotations

Text and Subtitles:

Added to emphasize

important aspects

Cartoons

were edited and incorporated into

the Video

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Video Example

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Development of lab modules

There were several authoring software packages used:

EON studio

, a

state-of-the-art

virtual reality development

tool was used for hardness tester, rolling machine and heat

treatment;

Unity3D

, a popular game design engine was

used for concrete and asphalt testing; and

LabVIEW,

a

programming language for developing virtual instruments

was used for the X-ray diffraction module.

Principles used in the virtual lab experiments:

The experiments have to simulate the physical lab

experience.

They also need to be interactive, and keep the student

active.

Students should be able to conduct the experiments

with no assistance.

The experience should be fun and memorable.

The virtual lab can be run on a laptop (i.e., no need for

specialty virtual reality equipment)

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Impact

The modules were developed to run on a PC

(or laptop) with

basic graphic capabilities

,

as our focus was on

impacting

the

largest

number of students

at our institute,

around the country, and around the globe.

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Reaching

students at

all levels

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Experiments Inspired by Game-Design

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X-Ray Diffraction Lab

Purpose:

To run an X-ray diffraction experiment.

Apply knowledge about Miller indices,

Bragg’s law, and lattice/crystal structure to a

real-life application.

Click here to go to part I

Note:

You must complete

part I

of the X-ray

lab prior to running the experiment

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Operating Procedure of the X-ray virtual lab

Fill out information:

Your name(s) and choose

a sample (number

between 1 and 6).

You can open a context

help window with ctrl-h

anywhere in the lab.

We u

se CuKα radiation (wavelength 1.54 Å)

To start,

click here:

X-ray lab

a dialog box will open

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Put on the radiation badge

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Click on the specimen button

Open the door to the

x-ray diffractometer,

insert the sample and

close the door.

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Turn the key to the on position and

wait a few seconds before flipping

the “RAYS ON” switch. The

X-RAY ON indicator light stays on as

long as the x-ray tube is energized.

Wait for the indicator to show 25KV.

You can turn the KV up to about 40

and the mA up to 30.

Higher power settings give better

signal to noise values.

mA should not exceed the overload

set point of 40, and the product of

KV and mA should not exceed the

overload set point of 1.7 kVA.

Doing so will shut down the X-ray

generator immediately

.

Select the X-Ray tab

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Fill in the Scan parameters (2-

q

range), step size and dwell time.

Press Scan.

Select the Scan tab

The shutter opens automatically at the start of

the scan.

You can Export the data to Excel by right

clicking the plot.

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Sample of Results

Interactive Simulation of Engineering Experiments

Inspired by Game-Design

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20 40 60 80 100 120

Simulted B19 phase of NiTiCu shape memory

alloy

X-ray diffraction simulated pattern of the B19 phase of

NiTiCu shape memory alloy.

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Include in your report

Equation for x-ray diffraction

Wavelength and other parameters used

The excel graph (with the {khl} identified)

Information of the samples used

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Measure of Success (

Initial

Assessment)

We test the students

before

and

after

they run

the lab, and compare “Treatment Group” to a

comparison group.

For the

Brass Lab

, the treatment group

performed better on the post-lab test than the

comparison group.

For the X-ray lab, the treatment group showed

gains from the pre-lab test to the post-lab test

while the comparison group did not.

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Groups reached… so far

We have reached a very large number of individuals:

Within our university and at Louisiana State University

At community colleges (e.g. Muskegon, MI)

At middle and high schools (currently at a 50 mile radius)

Wide dissemination of modules to many other institutions

nationally and internationally (we receive requests via

email). For example: Al-Farabi Kazakh National University,

Kazakhstan; Texas State Technical Center Waco, Texas;

Bristol CC, MA; Universidad Nacional de Colombia; Highers

Colleges of Technology, UAE; Tafresh University, Iran; Risø,

Denmark.

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Conclusions

Virtual Lab:

o

Saves time and resources

o

Requires less effort

Beneficial because:

o

A mistake made in this Virtual Lab costs nothing

o

It is effective – reaches a large number of

students

o

Reduces dependency on instructors (It allows

the student to independently learn and follow

through the steps of an activity)

o

Promotes learning

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Simulation by Emiliya Ikonomova

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Inspired by Game-Design

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What Next?

Scanning Electron Microscope

This essential characterization tool was already

requested by several groups around the World.

All our developed modules are available at no

cost at:

http://www.wmich.edu/mae/research_labs/vms_lab/

Click on the “Downloads” button.

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Acknowledgements

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Inspired by Game-Design

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Many other people contributed to this project at our

campus, around the US, and abroad. They include:

At WMU:

Richard M. Wood, Instruction Specialist for the

"Real Experiments" Videos; Abraham Barouch, Virtual

Laboratory Learning Experience Assessment; John

Mackenzie, Photographer and Producer of Videos; and

students Shabnam Abdolrahmani, Ahmad Ashraf Ahmad

Mahir, Noor Aishah Ahmad Fuad, and Peter Holvestat.

At LSU:

Marwa Hassan.

In Brazil:

Luis Fernando Soares

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Thank you for your

kind attention

Interactive Simulation of Engineering

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