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Alternative Approaches to Undergraduate Engineering Laboratory Experience for Low-income Nations

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Division for Experimentation & Lab-oriented Studies Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29767

Download Count

26

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Paper Authors

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Kimia Moozeh University of Toronto

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Kimia Moozeh is a PhD Candidate, graduate research and teaching assistant in Engineering Education at the University of Toronto. She received her Hon. B.Sc. in 2013, and her Master’s degree in Chemistry in 2014. Her dissertation explores improving the learning outcomes of undergraduate engineering laboratories by bridging the learning from a larger context to the underlying fundamentals, using digital learning objects.

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Nadine Ibrahim University of Toronto Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-1241-5935

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Nadine Ibrahim is a civil engineer who is passionate about the sustainability of global cities. She is a triple graduate of the University of Toronto, and holds a BASc (2000), MASc (2003), and PhD (2015) in Civil Engineering, and a Certificate of Preventive Engineering and Social Development. Nadine has leveraged her industry experience to expand her inquiry into cities through urban and environmental projects in Canada and abroad. In 2010, she received the Early Career Award, awarded by the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at U of T to one alumnus, in celebration of 10 years of achievements. From undergrad research in structural engineering, into sustainable infrastructure in grad school, her vision is to connect sustainable urbanization with ecological economics to address climate change in cities, and strives to find ways to re-imagine and redefine engineering of the future.

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Rahim Rezaie University of Toronto

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Dr. Rahim Rezaie is a Senior Advisor and Program Coordinator at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Engineering, where he is engaged in teaching, grant writing and coordinating research projects. He has conducted post-doctoral fellowships at the Rotman School of Management and the Munk School of Global Affairs, and completed a Post Graduate Research Fellowship at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Dr. Rezaie’s expertise and research interest is in global health, with a focus on health technology innovation. He holds a master of biotechnology degree and a PhD, both from the University of Toronto.

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Yacob Astatke Morgan State University

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Dr. Yacob Astatke completed both his Doctor of Engineering and B.S.E.E. degrees from Morgan State University (MSU) and his M.S.E.E. from Johns Hopkins University. He has been a full time faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department at MSU since August 1994. He previously served as as the Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the School of Engineering for 2 years and currently serves as the Assistant Vice President for International Relations at MSU. Dr. Astatke is the winner of the 2013 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) “National Outstanding Teaching Award," and the 2012 ASEE Mid-Atlantic Region "Distinguished Teacher" Award. He teaches courses in both analog and digital electronic circuit design and instrumentation, with a focus on wireless communication. He has more than 15 years experience in the development and delivery of synchronous and asynchronous web-based course supplements for electrical engineering courses. Dr. Astatke played a leading role in the development and implementation of the first completely online undergraduate ECE program in the State of Maryland. He has published over 70 papers and presented his research work at regional, national and international conferences. He also runs several exciting summer camps geared towards middle school, high school, and community college students to expose and increase their interest in pursuing Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Dr. Astatke travels to Ethiopia at least twice per year to provide training and guest lectures related to the use of the mobile laboratory technology and pedagogy to enhance the ECE curriculum at five different universities.

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Murray R. Metcalfe University of Toronto

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Murray R. Metcalfe is Professor, Globalization in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto (UofT), where he is also the founder and director of the Engineering Education for Sustainable Cities in Africa project (EESC-A). At UofT he is also a Senior Fellow at the Global Cities Institute.

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Greg Evans University of Toronto

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GREG EVANS is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and the Director of the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research at the University of Toronto. He is the Director of the Collaborative Program in Engineering Education and Associate Director of the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (ILead). He is a 3M National Teaching Fellow and has been awarded the 2015 Ontario Colleges and Universities Faculty Association Teaching Award, the 2015 President’s Teaching Award, the 2014 Allan Blizzard Award, the 2014 Faculty Teaching Award, the 2013 Northrop Frye Award for Linking Teaching and Research, the 2010 Engineers Canada Medal for Distinction in Engineering Education and the 2010 American Society for Engineering Education St. Lawrence Section Outstanding Teaching Award. He is a licensed engineer (P.Eng.) and holds a BASc, MASc and PhD (Toronto).

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Abstract

The benefits of undergraduate laboratories are well established for engineering disciplines. Undergraduate laboratories provide an environment for students to practice and improve skills such as critical thinking, teamwork and psychomotor skills. However, laboratories are very expensive to operate in terms of facilities, and staff time. They also require access to consumables and equipment. These barriers can prevent some universities from providing students with laboratory-based experiences, especially in countries where the required financial resources are hard to find.

Technological strategies have been developed to overcome some of these barriers associated with hands-on laboratories: virtual laboratories and remote laboratories, which are collectively referred to as VRLs, as well as portable hardware platforms. Virtual laboratories are computer simulations providing simulated data, while remote laboratories provide access to real equipment via the Internet, and therefore students can have access to real data. Portable hardware platforms are smaller apparatus with similar functions to standard laboratory equipment.

This paper presents an overview of the use of such methods with a focus on the African universities. The data are from interviews with faculty and students at a few universities in African countries, as well as findings from literature.

Some of the more prominent examples of each method such as the iLabs in Makerere University (Uganda), the Virtual Laboratories Project in India, and the Mobile Studio Board (Universities in Ethiopia) are discussed. These methods could provide students with valuable learning experience, which might not be available otherwise since there is no physical equipment. However, our analysis shows that certain challenges do hamper broader adaptation. The challenges include lack of reliable internet connection/ electricity, limited disciplines covered, and in some cases high costs.

The findings suggest that there is a need for yet more cost-effective, scalable solutions for students to perform laboratories in various disciplines in the countries examined. For now, it seems that a combination of these methods might be the best available solution, especially if universities can share portable apparatus, complemented by either simulations or remote laboratories. Determining the best approach also requires evaluating the pedagogical effectiveness of these methods within the context used.

Moozeh, K., & Ibrahim, N., & Rezaie, R., & Astatke, Y., & Metcalfe, M. R., & Evans, G. (2018, June), Alternative Approaches to Undergraduate Engineering Laboratory Experience for Low-income Nations Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29767

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