Virtual Labs to Train Engineering Students

Imagine that you are an engineering student in India. You go to college at one of the many thousands of engineering colleges in the nation. Your college cannot provide advanced lab facilities. Not to worry. Virtual labs can still help you perform all experiments you need to know and learn.Virtual Labs

An MHRD funded initiative, virtual labs project envisions making available computer simulated experiments to all engineering students in India via the internet.

A student can access the labs from a computer terminal at his college that has a broadband internet connection. No additional infrastructural setup is required.

Amrita is participating in this unique MHRD mission; it has developed and made available virtual labs in physics, chemistry, computer science and biotechnology.

Recently a one-day workshop was organized at Amrita for senior faculty from colleges around the nation for hands-on exposure to these virtual labs.

Virtual WorkshopAcademicians, researchers and experts from nearly 50 colleges attended.

“We wanted to train faculty so that they could supplement their curriculum with these powerful e-learning and self-learning tools,” stated Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan, the project PI at Amrita.

“We hope to trigger the imagination and inquisitiveness of students with these virtual labs,” she added.

Indeed. It is easy to see how.

Do you know that soldiers break step while marching across a bridge? This is because a bridge, like any other mechanical system, has a natural frequency, and if the soldiers happen to march with the same frequency, then the bridge can start resonating. A dangerous phenomenon for a structure that is supposed to remain still.

resonance columnAll students of physics learn about resonance and investigate this phenomenon by performing experiments using a resonance column.

Workshop participants learned how students could perform experiments by varying the ambient temperature, frequency of the tuning fork as well as other parameters, all online. Over the course of the day, they were exposed to scores of such virtual labs, all now available online.

Additional Secretary, MHRD, Mr. N. K. Sinha who oversees the multi-crore virtual labs initiative addressed all workshop participants.

“We are planning to extend the reach of these virtual labs to at least five lakh students,” he stated. “Let us all join hands in this mission to bridge the digital divide among urban and rural teachers and learners and empower those who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution.”

January 16, 2011
School of Engineering, Amritapuri

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