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Remote Labs

The World Wide Web is most widely used in courses with no laboratory component for distributing course syllabi, notes, assignments and solutions. Our research effort was in development of technologies and curriculum for remote laboratories with real hardware over the Internet.

We worked on development of such a capability using two different approaches.



In this approach an interactive TV system, controlled by operators at each location, established real time audio/video connection between two remote classrooms and a local classroom that were hundreds of miles away from each other. The e-Lab was set up in the local classroom by connecting automation hardware and robots to the Internet. During a laboratory session, students at the remote sites joined in the class with the help of the TV system. They could control and program the hardware in the e-Lab over the Internet in real time while watching and hearing it in action through the TV system. The system also facilitated interaction of students across different sites and with the instructor. Using this approach a “Manufacturing Automation” laboratory course was delivered in real time from WSU Vancouver to the Boeing Company employees and to students at WSU Pullman simultaneously.



logo-sme Funded by a grant from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation





This approach involved development of a configurable laboratory book. Imagine yourself reading a regular engineering text book. As you read the material you would refer to photographs of machines or components distributed throughout a chapter. The e-LabBook was just like a regular text book only it was on the Internet. As you read this book you saw photographs and schematics of machines. But this time you were able to connect to the actual machines in our laboratory and were able to operate them remotely. In other words, the e-LabBook contained actual machines and components in its virtual pages.


nsflogo3 Funded by the National Science Foundation




Selected publications

  • “Initial steps towards distance delivery of a manufacturing automation laboratory course by combining the Internet and an interactive TV system”, Proc. ASEE Annual Conference, St. Louis, MO, July 2000.
  • “Technology-assisted delivery of a laboratory course at a distance,” Proc. ASEE Annual Conference, Albuquerque, NM, June, 2001. Best paper award, Manufacturing Division, ASEE Annual Conference, 2001.
  • “eLab: An electronic classroom for real-time distance delivery of a laboratory course,” ASEE Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 90, no. 4, pp. 695 – 705, October 2001.
  • “Offering a laboratory course with a design project over the Internet,” Proc. ASEE Annual Conference, Montreal, Quebec, June, 2002.
  • “eLabBook: An electronic laboratory book on the Internet for distance delivery of laboratory experience,” Proceedings of ASEE, Albuquerque, NM, June, 2001.
  • “Assessment of effectiveness of an electronic book to deliver robotics lab experience over the internet,” Proceedings of DETC’02: ASME 2002 Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, October 2, 2002, Montreal, Canada.
  • “A laboratory course with remote and local students,” Proceedings of ASEE, Nashville, TN, June, 2003.