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New AAE virtual labs help create enhanced, engaging learning environment

AAE Professor Alberto Mello is leading a project to create and install six virtual laboratories this semester. The virtual labs allow AAE to maximize the use of its physical lab space to ensure the best hands-on learning opportunities for students.
AAE Professor Alberto Mello and his students in the lab

AAE Professor Alberto Mello is leading a project, in partnership with ALGETEC USA, to create and install six virtual laboratories this semester. The virtual labs allow AAE to maximize the use of its physical lab space to ensure the best hands-on learning opportunities for students.

A rendering of the virtual lab user experience

“These virtual labs help students better understand the context of experiments by completing pre-lab work and also allow each student to have more hands-on experiences with the lab equipment,” Mello says.

The web-based labs, which complement the physical labs for AAE 204L, also allow the students to better understand the acquisition and manipulation of data. The virtual labs use open-ended experiments, which means students experience the consequences of errors in real-time simulations.

“This has the potential of allowing the students to practice an experiment, to understand concepts, and to become comfortable with safety procedures beforehand,” Mello says. “It also allows students to revisit fundamentals of each experiment to build comprehension, integrating very well with distance education.”

ALGETEC USA, a Purdue-affiliated engineering education startup, will create and install the six virtual labs and two pieces of physical lab equipment (Truss Structure Bench and Fatigue Testing Machine).