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Assessment Of Remote Experiments And Local Simulations: Student Experiences, Satisfaction, And Suggestions

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.246.1 - 8.246.12



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Paper Authors

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Richard Zollars

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Jim Henry

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Assessment of Remote Experiments and Local Simulations: Student Experiences, Satisfaction and Suggestions

Jim Henry Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chattanooga, TN 37403-2598

Richard Zollars Department of Chemical Engineering Washington State University Pullman, WA 99164-2710


This paper has a comparison of student reactions to having laboratory experiments conducted with simulation software and being conducted remotely through the Web. The students in a process controls course were exposed to both simulation and remote experiments at different times during the course. We surveyed the students at the end of the course about aspects of the two methods of conducting experiments. These surveys are one of the “outcomes” of the course and are tabulated here. This paper discusses some changes that can be instituted to capture the best learning features of the two methods of having students learn from the laboratory.


Providing hands-on, or learn-by-doing, experiences for engineering students is often complicated by either a lack of equipment, technician support or both. Yet most topics in chemical engineering are best learned via a learn-by-doing approach. Computer simulations have been used in lieu of a truly hands-on experience but these are often lacking in the fullness of details that real systems provide. With the advent of high-speed Internet communications an alternative approach to providing hands-on experiences has become possible – remote operation of real equipment. Such remote operation experiences are fully learn-by-doing with nearly all the positive and negative aspects of true hands-on laboratory work.

This past year the process control class at Washington State University was taught using both of these approaches. Computer simulations for process identification and control were provided using Control Station® ( Remote operation of actual equipment for the same purposes was provided via an Internet connection to the Resource Center for Engineering Laboratories on the Web ( at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). The control class at Washington State University was divided into two groups – one to use Control Station® and the other to access the site at UTC. On subsequent assignments the groups were switched so that each group had an equal opportunity to conduct experiments via both computer

Zollars, R., & Henry, J. (2003, June), Assessment Of Remote Experiments And Local Simulations: Student Experiences, Satisfaction, And Suggestions Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12591

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