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Developing a Remote Laboratory at TAMUQ Based on a Novel Unified Framework

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Division Experimentation & Lab-oriented Studies: Electrical and Computer Engineering Labs

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.487.1 - 26.487.16



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Paper Authors

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Ning Wang University of Houston

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Siu Chun Michael Ho University of Houston


Qianlong Lan Texas Southern University

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Dpt. of Computer Science
Graduate Student

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Xuemin Chen Texas Southern University

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Dr. Xuemin Chen is the founding Director of Virtual and Remote Laboratory and an Associate Professor of Computer Engineering Technology at the Texas Southern University. He received his BS, MS and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Nanjing University of Science and Technology (NJUST), China, in 1985, 1988 and 1991 respectively. He joined the faculty of Texas Southern University (TSU) in the Department of Engineering Technology in September 2006. Prior to that, he had fifteen years working experience in academia with six years (1991-1997) at NJUST and another nine years (1997-2006) at University of Houston. He was the recipient of the Top Research Innovations and Findings Award from Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for his contribution in the “Thickness Measurement of Reinforced Concrete Pavement by Using Ground Penetrating Radar” in 2004. Upon joining the TSU, he actively engaged in the conception and implementation of next-generation remote laboratory. He initiated the Virtual and Remote Laboratory (VR-Lab) at TSU in 2008. With the support of NSF HBCU-UP, CCLI and IEECI programs, and Qatar NPRP Cycle 4 award, he has established a state of the art VR-Lab at TSU. Now, the VR-Lab website is being served as portal for students to conduct various virtual and remote experiments. He was recognized for excellence in mentoring undergraduate research at TSU in 2012.

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Gangbing Song University of Houston (CoE)


Hamid R. Parsaei Texas A&M University at Qatar

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Hamid R. Parsaei is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of Academic Outreach Office at Texas A&M University at Qatar. Dr. Parsaei is also a Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Mechanical Engineering in Texas A&M University in College Station. Dr. Parsaei is a Fellow of American Society for Engineering Education and Fellow of Institute of Industrial Engineers. he has published over 220 articles in the refereed archival journals and conference proceedings. Dr. Parsaei is a registered professional engineer in Texas.

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Develop a Remote Laboratory Based on a Novel Unified Framework Abstract Remote laboratory is the use of Internet and control technologies to remotely conduct realexperiments. Because of the effectiveness, flexibility and cost saving of remote laboratory, it hasfound lots of applications in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.Currently, several efforts have successfully expanded to remote laboratory development andapplication. For example, the iLab developed by MIT has provided an advanced support foraccess booking and federation of remote laboratories for scalability which allowed sharing ofexperiments by several universities in US, Europe, Africa, and Australia. The LiLa project andWebLab-Deusto project also supported a federation system to share remote laboratories inEurope. The Labshare project is focused on building a network of remote laboratories inAustralia. However, most of current remote laboratories have firewall and third party plug-inissues. In order to ultimately benefit engineering course teaching and research facilities whilesharing resources with other universities and colleges, we successfully developed the remotelaboratory based on a novel unified framework through the collaborative effort of severaluniversities. In this paper, we present a generic scheduler web server for a remote experimentfarm, and a novel easy-to-use unified framework for remote laboratory development. The novel unified framework included three parts: client web application, server applicationand experiment control application. The client web application used the Web 2.0 Technologythat included HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), andJQuery/JQuery-Mobile JavaScript libraries. In addition, the server-based Mashup technology foruser interface integration is employed. The server application is directly built on the top ofMySQL Database, Apache web server engine and Node.js web server engine. The experimentcontrol application is using Web Service technology based on programmed codes in LabVIEW(Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Engineering Workbench). To implement the real-timecommunication between applications, we use JSON and Socket.IO to implement thecommunication module, which is developed based on the web socket protocol. To solve the issueof traversing network firewalls, we also integrate one core component, Node-HTTP-Proxy, intothe current framework to share network port 80. It allowed the transmission of real-time livestreaming video, real-time control command and the experimental data across the networkfirewalls. A scalable Scheduler Web Server is deployed for manage remote experiments and anauthentication URL function for the experiment operation page is developed. The novel unifiedframework is applied to a remote mechanical engineering experiment with shape memory alloys(SMA). The goal of the SMA experiment is to study the hysteretic behavior of the wire actuatorand how the driving frequency changes the hysteresis loop. The remote SVP (Smart VibrationPlatform) experiment is also developed to offer users hands-on experience on structural vibrationcontrol using an MR (Magnetorheological) Fluid damper and SMA braces. With the new remote laboratory solution enabled by the novel unified framework, terminalusers can operate or view the real-time remote experiments on most of popular web browserswithout firewall issues or the need for third party plug-ins. This new solution will significantlybenefit future remote laboratory developments.

Wang, N., & Ho, S. C. M., & Lan, Q., & Chen, X., & Song, G., & Parsaei, H. R. (2015, June), Developing a Remote Laboratory at TAMUQ Based on a Novel Unified Framework Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23826

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