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Overcoming the Limitations of Current Online Laboratory Systems Using Game-Based Virtual Environments

[+] Author Affiliations
Yizhe Chang, El-Sayed Aziz, Sven K. Esche, Constantin Chassapis

Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ

Paper No. IMECE2011-63743, pp. 159-168; 10 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Engineering Education and Professional Development
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5491-4
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Current online laboratory systems based on either remotely operated hardware or pure software simulations are often criticized for lacking experimental setup experience and for being limited to the data collection and result analysis aspects of traditional hands-on laboratories. One possible solution for overcoming these shortcomings is to use a multi-player computer game engine for implementing interactive laboratory environments. Taking advantage of game technology, the students are enabled to simultaneously interact with laboratory equipment in the virtual laboratory and to communicate with each other through voice or chat. In particular, assembling the experimental equipment before using it in some experimental procedure can become part of the laboratory exercise. In this article, a virtual gear design laboratory environment for a junior-level undergraduate mechanical engineering course on mechanisms and machine dynamics is presented. This virtual laboratory environment implemented using a multiplayer computer game engine provides the students with the flexibility to perform various experiments related to the concepts of the fundamental law of gearing and to planetary motion of gears. In this environment, the students can work in teams to interactively select and cooperatively assemble gear train components piece by piece into a more complex experimental apparatus. This article describes the assembly logic that is used to combine individual components into experimental setups as part of the experimental procedure in student laboratories. Furthermore, the game environment can be equipped with functionality for monitoring the students’ progress and learning outcomes, thus enabling skill-based assessment.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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