From Event: SPIE Optical Engineering + Applications, 2016
This project involves the construction of a remote-controlled laboratory experiment that can be accessed by online students. The project addresses a need to provide a laboratory experience for students who are taking online courses to be able to provide an in-class experience. The chosen task for the remote user is an optical engineering experiment, specifically aligning a spatial filter. We instrument the physical laboratory set up in Tucson, AZ at the University of Arizona. The hardware in the spatial filter experiment is augmented by motors and cameras to allow the user to remotely control the hardware. The user interacts with a software on their computer, which communicates with a server via Internet connection to the host computer in the Optics Laboratory at the University of Arizona. Our final overall system is comprised of several subsystems. These are the optical experiment set-up, which is a spatial filter experiment; the mechanical subsystem, which interfaces the motors with the micrometers to move the optical hardware; the electrical subsystem, which allows for the electrical communications from the remote computer to the host computer to the hardware; and finally the software subsystem, which is the means by which messages are communicated throughout the system. The goal of the project is to convey as much of an in-lab experience as possible by allowing the user to directly manipulate hardware and receive visual feedback in real-time. Thus, the remote user is able to learn important concepts from this particular experiment and is able to connect theory to the physical world by actually seeing the outcome of a procedure. The latter is a learning experience that is often lost with distance learning and is one that this project hopes to provide.
Sarah C. Luciano and Alan R. Kost, "Robotic laboratory for distance education," Proc. SPIE 9946, Optics Education and Outreach IV, 99460O (Presented at SPIE Optical Engineering + Applications: September 01, 2016; Published: 2 December 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2238449.
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