Abstract

Covid-19 pandemic has introduced radical changes to engineering education in the sense that most of the teaching moved to the off-campus setting of the online classes. However, conducting laboratory classes, a fundamental part of engineering education has remained to be a challenge. To address this situation, an ambitious approach is taken to reestablish the laboratory experience entirely online with the help of digital twins of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and turbomachinery laboratory experiments. Laboratory-based undergraduate courses are important parts of the curriculum at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences (HSLU) in Switzerland. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it was necessary to adapt to the new environment of remote learning and modify the laboratory experiments so that they can be carried out online. The approach was to develop digital twins of each laboratory experiment with web applications and to provide an environment together with supporting videos and interactive problems so that the laboratory experiments can be carried out remotely. A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical system, e.g., the test rig. This paper explains the development of the digital twins of the laboratory experiments and provides information about the selected experiments such as potential vortex, linear momentum equation, diffuser flow, radial compressor, fuel cell, and pump test rig. A remote or distance learning has many hurdles, a major one being how to teach hands-on laboratory courses outside of an actual laboratory. The experience at the HSLU showed that teaching online laboratories using the digital twins of the experiments can work and the students can take part in remote laboratories that meet the learning outcomes and objectives.

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