ADU Implements Virtual Reality Technologies & Simulations to Teach Practical Aspects of Engineering Programs Remotely
15 April 2020
The College of Engineering at Abu Dhabi University (ADU) has launched a number of technologies, tools and strategies to enhance distance learning and ensure that the remote curriculum incorporates the practical sections of teaching engineering courses. This was implemented for engineering programs with courses that rely heavily on mathematics and applied sciences, in addition to focusing on promoting the acquisition of practical skills.
The technology available for distance learning at ADU allows the practical segment of the course to take place using high-precision simulations of complex engineering systems. Additionally, the process of assessing the practical aspect using the remote learning is based on projects and laboratory reports submitted by students through simulation techniques and virtual reality.
Dr. Hamdi Al Sheibani, Dean of the College of Engineering at Abu Dhabi University, commented: “We adopted a number of technological methods to implement practical components according to the needs of the courses by using tools that students and faculty can use simultaneously such as Microsoft Teams. We’ve also launched digitally simulated environments for complex engineering systems remotely, wherein the equipment we use is necessary to collect and analyze readings. Finally, we developed laboratory environments with interactive Virtual Reality (VR) so that our students can partake in this experience from home, with or without VR tools such as glasses.”
Before the remote learning began, ADU ensured that the faculty received extensive training in the use of these new tools and strategies. The College of Engineering also takes into consideration the students’ feedback to ensure the alignment of these technologies with their needs, and that assessment strategies and tools are adapted to facilitate distance learning.
Al Sheibani added: “At ADU, our engineering programs focus on assessing projects to enhance students’ practical skills. As an essential pillar in the continuous improvement of the College and our students, assessments include project reports, laboratory reports, and presentations to measure students’ practical skillsets without jeopardizing academic integrity. Since the transition to distance learning, we have been committed to ensuring that our students continue to receive a well-rounded, enriching and enjoyable academic experience that is on-par with in-class learning, and we are working closely with them to ease their concerns and address any challenges that they have.”
Dr. Mohammed Ghazal, Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering also added: “The faculty has been trained in designing virtual exams and incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) in analyzing project reports and laboratories to monitor that they have been properly completed by students. Students have also been trained in these systems through virtual sessions where faculty answered their questions and inquiries in preparation for future exams.”
Dr. Ghazal added: “The interactive environment displays the laboratory equipment digitally so that the student is able to use it and observe its effects, then record the readings and analyze the results. After this, the digital laboratory also provides an explanation of the equipment and guidance on the correct use, combining the video with VR technology so the student can move around and interact with various devices. This way, the students can develop a relationship between engineering values and the correct use of equipment and measuring devices. The participants also use the virtual laboratory with the presence of a faculty member to answer any inquiries throughout the process.”