Lab-otomy : producing the virtual engineer

Bullen, Frank, Dawes, Les A., & Rasmussen, Gary N. (2000) Lab-otomy : producing the virtual engineer. In Pudlowski, Zenon (Ed.) 3rd UICEE Annual Conference on Engineering Education : Collaboration in Engineering Education, 9-12 February 2000, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.

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Economic rationalisation within universities has seen a trend for larger classes, higher student/staff ratios and a reduction in high cost program components such as laboratory work. The historical trend for engineering schools and faculties has been to adopt the “easy” approach and reduce the amount of laboratory work contained within degree programs or to replace the classical “hands-on” approach with computer based simulations or “virtual laboratories”. Both approaches allow a reduction in hours spent by academic staff in laboratories and fewer technical staff needed to support laboratory activities. The paper describes how the School of Civil Engineering at QUT has approached the resourcing problem and cites a pilot project where a geotechnical unit was redesigned to achieve lower costs and assist in the development of generic skills. The pilot project involved producing a geotechnical site investigation video to be used to extend the students’ technical skills, introduce the basic concepts of design, and enhance the students’ ability to see foundation design in an overall engineering context. It was also perceived that the generic skills of communication, teamwork, and problem identification and formulation were developed. The project was a success with students and the School has enjoyed reduced laboratory costs. The same concept has now been applied to upgrade the School’s construction materials laboratories. It has been concluded that while virtual laboratories are a useful tool, the tactile experience in hands-on laboratories remains an essential component of preparing graduating engineers for the real world.

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ID Code: 18079
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Self-archiving of the author-version is not yet supported by this publisher.
For more information, please refer to the journal’s website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
Keywords: virtual laboratory, generic skills, integrated etaching, HERN
ISBN: 0732621283
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > CIVIL ENGINEERING (090500) > Civil Engineering not elsewhere classified (090599)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Higher Education (130103)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2000 UICEE
Deposited On: 18 Feb 2009 23:47
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2017 09:01

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