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Simulation and Visualization Enhanced Engineering Education – Development and Implementation of Virtual Experiments in a Laboratory Course

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1296.1 - 22.1296.15



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Paper Authors


Sushil K. Chaturvedi Old Dominion University

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Dr Sushil Chaturvedi is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Old Dominion University. His teaching and research interests are in the area of engineering eduaction and renewable energy conversion and conservation.

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Kaustubh A. Dharwadkar

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Simulation and Visualization Enhanced Engineering Education – Development and Implementation of Virtual Experiments in a Laboratory CourseAbstractThis paper presents results from a National Science Foundation grant titled “Simulation andVisualization Enhanced Engineering Education.” The overarching objective of this NSF fundedengineering education project is to enhance student learning through integration of web-basedsimulation and visualization modules in several engineering lecture and laboratory courses at OldDominion University. The objectives of the project are: (a) development of web-based modules,using simulation and visualization; (b) assessment of effectiveness of these modules in helpingstudents achieve learning gains and (c) dissemination of results to other institutions throughactive collaboration as well as through transference of web-based learning resources.Although the scope of the project is quite broad, embracing a wide range of courses in threeengineering disciplines, the present work describes the results obtained from application ofsimulation and visualization for development and implementation of web-based virtualengineering laboratories. The present work leverages the advancement in hardware and softwaretechnologies to map physical experiment into web-based virtual experiments that can be used toenrich student’s laboratory experience. This physical-to-virtual transformation process isillustrated in this paper for the thermo-fluids laboratory course in the undergraduate mechanicalengineering curriculum. Four physical experiments in the thermo-fluids laboratory course havebeen transformed into virtual experiment, and the newly created virtual experiments have beenused by students to conduct pre-lab practice sessions prior to performing corresponding physicalexperiment sessions (Table 1). By performing virtual experiments, students learn in more detailabout the objectives, procedure and expected outcomes ahead of scheduled physical experiments.Use of virtual experiments in the supplementation mode makes students better learner, and theassessment results, to be described in the proposed full paper, show that students are betterprepared and get more out of physical laboratory sessions. To test the efficacy of the proposed pre-lab practice session pedagogy, assessment instrumentsand statistical experimental designs have been developed and implemented to objectivelydetermine whether implemented virtual experiments, used in supplemation mode, enhancestudent learning compared to the pre-implementation setting (without virtual experiments) and totest if the learning gains are statistically significant or not. Student learning has been measuredusing the “Intact-Group Assessment” method that compares the performance of a “control”group (no access to the module), and an “experimental” group which uses the web-based virtualexperiment modules for pre-lab practice sessions to supplement the physical laboratory sessions.Both groups were administered an identical quiz just before the start of the physical experimentthat tested them for their knowledge of experimental procedure and data acquisition. Studentlearning as measured by assessment and statistical analysis of test results showed consistentimprovement for students who used the virtual experiments for practice. Effect of variousdemographic factors such as gender, age, ethnicity, student level etc was also consideredstatistically to see if the virtual modules experiment were the only factor in enhancing learning orif the demographic factors also played a role in the learning process. The full paper will alsodescribe collaborative nature of the project involving other institutions. Table 1 The Virtual Thermo-fluids LaboratoryNo Experiment Status Assessment1 Uncertainty Analysis/Instrument selection Completed Yes2 Jet Impact Force Completed Yes3 Heat Exchangers Completed Yes4 Measurement of Drag Coefficient Completed Planned

Chaturvedi, S. K., & Dharwadkar, K. A. (2011, June), Simulation and Visualization Enhanced Engineering Education – Development and Implementation of Virtual Experiments in a Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18976

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