Asee peer logo

An Architecture For Virtual Laboratory Experimentation

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Modern Software Measurement Techniques

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.175.1 - 11.175.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


El-Sayed Aziz Stevens Institute of Technology

visit author page

Dr. El-Sayed Aziz holds a faculty position in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Mansoura University, Egypt. Currently, he is working as research scientist at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Mansoura University, Egypt, in 1991 and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in 2003. His research interests include knowledge-based engineering systems; computer-integrated design and manufacturing; Finite Element Analysis; software development and applications; as well as remote and virtual laboratories.

visit author page


Sven Esche Stevens Institute of Technology

visit author page

Dr. Sven K. Esche is currently holding a position as Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. In 1989, he received an undergraduate degree in Applied Mechanics from Chemnitz University of Technology (Germany). After working for three years at Mercedes Benz AG in Stuttgart (Germany), he obtained M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA in 1994 and 1997, respectively. His current research interests include multi-scale modeling of thermo-mechanical processing of metals, integrated product and process design under conditions of uncertainty and risk as well as remote sensing and control of distributed devices with special focus on remote laboratories.

visit author page


Constantin Chassapis Stevens Institute of Technology

visit author page

Dr. Constantin Chassapis is Professor and the Director of the Mechanical Engineering Department, Professor, at Stevens Institute of Technology. His research interests are in knowledge-based engineering systems; computer-aided design and manufacturing; structure-property modeling and characterization of polymers and polymer composites. He has received the best paper award from SPE’s Injection Molding Division, the distinguished Assistant Professor Award at Stevens, an Honorary Master’s Degree from Stevens Institute of technology, and the Tau Beta Pi Pi Academic Excellence Award. He has been an active member in ASME, and SPE.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An Architecture for Virtual Laboratory Experimentation

Abstract This paper presents a software architecture for the rapid development of virtual laboratories that support a flexible online collaborative learning environment. The experimentation system integrates Java, Python and Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) to provide multiple users with virtual laboratories over the Internet.

The system architecture is modular and can be easily extended to implement different experiments. Most of the system components are implemented as Java applets that can be run on commonly available Web browsers in an interactive way, thus minimizing the network overhead. The proposed approach and environment have been implemented and are currently tested in different experiments such as a mechanical vibration system, a muffler system, a liquid level control system and beam deflection system. This environment provides the students with the possibility to learn in a flexible way, i.e. they can follow different learning modalities to perform experiments from remote locations using the Web browser. This paper will summarize specific outcomes and provide sample screenshots at key stages of a representative experiment – the classical strength-of-materials problem of determining the deflections and stress concentrations of a cantilever beam of linear elastic material with stress raisers.

Index Terms: Laboratory education; Internet; on-line experiment; Web-based laboratory; virtual laboratory; virtual experiment; virtual reality; VRML.


The fast development of computer systems along with the spreading Internet connectivity have opened the door for flexible delivery of engineering education and for providing students with a very rich source of educational material. Many educational institutions have implemented virtual and remote laboratories as an Internet-based learning environment to support flexible engineering education curricula. Gillet et al.1,2,3,4 described the collaboration between the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, and The University of Florida in Gainesville, USA, to develop and share Web-based experimentation resources. Their environment integrates all the components necessary to carry out hands-on practice in a flexible learning context. It has the capability to reach more students by enabling them to access the experimental devices from remote locations at anytime via the Internet. At Purdue University, a virtual laboratory called SoftLab has been developed to provide an environment for both physical experiments and numerical simulations5. Web-based experimentation is becoming an increasingly attractive way in the deployment of e-Learning solutions and the modality of choice for enhancing the laboratory experience. It can include virtual (i.e. simulation-based) and remote (i.e. hardware-based) laboratory resources.

Simulation-based virtual laboratories have become the leading solution to provide for the needs of the e-Learning community. They represent a valuable option in academic laboratories due to their advantages: inexpensive operation and no time and physical restrictions. They also provide a safe learning environment for experimentation with dangerous equipment6. If the virtual reality

Aziz, E., & Esche, S., & Chassapis, C. (2006, June), An Architecture For Virtual Laboratory Experimentation Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--220

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015