June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Electrical and Computer
14.336.1 - 14.336.17
Collaborative Development of Remote Electronics Laboratories: The ELVIS iLab
Abstract Remote laboratories represent a significant value to engineering curricula in a variety of cases. Whether it is a complement to a hands-on experience or a substitute when a traditional lab is not feasible, remote laboratories can be a valuable educational resource. Since 1998, the MIT iLab Project has worked to increase the quality and availability of remote laboratories. Using the iLab Shared Architecture, developers of new labs can leverage a set of generic support functions and then share those labs easily and with minimal administrative cost. More recently, the iLab Project, in partnership with Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, Makerere University in Uganda and the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania and in coordination with the Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center (MATEC), has focused on building iLabs around the National Instruments Educational Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Suite (ELVIS) platform. The ELVIS is a low-cost, small-footprint unit that contains most of the common test instruments found in a typical electrical engineering lab. By coupling the ELVIS with iLabs, a variety of remote electronics laboratories can be built and shared around the world. Using this common hardware/software platform, participants in the iLab Project at different levels of the educational spectrum have developed experiments that meet their individual curricular needs and are able to host them for use by other peer institutions. Not only does this increase the variety of ELVIS- based iLabs, but it also spurs the creation of teams that can then build other, more diverse iLabs and substantively participate in project-wide collaborative development efforts. Through such coordinated efforts, iLabs can provide rich practical experiences for students in areas not previously possible at institutions across the educational spectrum.
The iLab Project is dedicated to the prospect of increasing the quality and availability of Internet-accessible remote laboratories. Remote laboratories, or iLabs, enable real laboratory instrumentation to be accessed remotely through the Internet, allowing students and educators to carry out experiments from anywhere at any time. In contrast to a traditional lab that requires multiple instrument stations to be placed in a relatively large physical space and attended by trained staff, an iLab can provide use of a single laboratory instrument, housed in a closed research lab, office or closet, to many students. This enables iLabs to provide laboratory experiences at a relatively low cost per user. Further, since users of an iLab do not have to be physically located at the laboratory, iLabs can be a means of providing broad access to rare, exotic or dangerous experiments such as those taking place in a nuclear reactor.
The iLab Project at MIT was started in 1998 by Prof. Jesús del Alamo as a response to a specific educational problem1. Prof. del Alamo, while lecturing an introductory course in microelectronics, lamented the entirely theoretical nature of the course. A traditional, hands-on microelectronics laboratory was not feasible due to the cost of providing the necessary test instrumentation for over a hundred students. However, one such instrument did exist in Prof. del Alamo’s research lab. With the help of an undergraduate student, a web-based interface for this
Jiwaji, A., & Hardison, J., & Ayodele, K. P., & Tickodri-Togboa, S. S., & Mwambela, A., & Harward, V. J., & del Alamo, J. A., & Harrison, B., & Gikandi, S. (2009, June), Collaborative Development Of Remote Electronics Laboratories: The Elvis Ilab Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5557
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