on December 12th, 2019

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has had a significant impact on the worlds of education and work. The advent of the internet and its subsequent development over the last three decades has led to immense changes and has produced incredible technological leaps. The interconnectivity of internet-connected technologies has dually given rise to the Internet of Things. This has meant that a plethora of technologies are now online: household appliances,  houses themselves, laptops, smartphones, watches, virtual reality headsets, and virtual assistants.

The development of mobile internet-connected technologies has not only revolutionized consumer technologies, but it has also created a seismic shift in the ideologies that underpin education. The methodology behind remote, online education and training is an ongoing process with the goalposts constantly shifting in the industry.

The focus of the last couple of years in the online education and training space has been on simulation - which has also led to gamification. Gamification is used as a strategy of teaching that relies on creating playable games that teach real-world principles. Simulating engineering problems in gamification environments is particularly helpful for learning practical skills that can be applied in the workplace.

The CEO of Simutech Multimedia, Samer Forzley, recently delivered a presentation at the Process Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago. He convinced crowds that manufacturing floor staff could be taught via playable, simulated engineering games. His presentation was entitled ‘Digitally Developing the Next Generation of Manufacturers with Gamification and 3-D Simulation’. The company has created a point-and-click game that displays a real-life engineering simulation of a manufacturing floor.

Forzley says that the teaching methods that worked for one generation will not work for the next one. He says that Generation X, and their predecessors, the Baby Boomers, learn through memorization and mentoring, otherwise known as a traditional schooling environment. Once these students get to the manufacturing floor, they would receive additional training from staff already employed at the factory. However, he says that the teaching methods of the past are failing to hit the mark with Millennials and Generation Z.

Therefore, simulated virtual environments and gamified engineering problem solving is the new way forward for a generation of people who have grown up in the interconnected internet age. It is also a great way to gain continued professional development and attain new skills and knowledge in different areas of engineering.

The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is an Australian institution that specializes in engineering education and delivers professional development and accredited programs to students worldwide. We use a unique online delivery methodology that makes use of live and interactive webinars, expert lecturers, dedicated learning support officers, and state-of-the-art technologies.

One such technology is our online laboratories and simulation software. They can be accessed by students around the world to simulate engineering scenarios and enhance applied skills and knowledge, so they graduate job-ready.

EIT student using simulation software

Students can control and interface with a pneumatic circuit using a microcontroller, for example. There are also labs involving field instruments; they include data acquisition, pumps, motors, industrial modems, and routers. Sensors can also be accessed, including flowmeters, ultrasonic sensors, oscilloscopes, and temperature gauges.

However, students learning online also require some real-world practical examples of how engineering workplaces function and what problem-solving scenarios may arise during their employment. Therefore, students can benefit from a process plant simulation that simulates both the operator and field technician roles.

Using plant simulation software, students can ‘walk’ through an industrial plant, tune a process loop, or diagnose a fault. Equipped with the knowledge learned in the virtual-practical world, the students can safely go into their workplaces knowing how to control the technology on-site.

The simulation kits range from compressors, pumps, distillation columns, heaters, and boilers. And they are realistic. With diagnostic tools rapidly becoming internet-based, these simulations are very closely aligned with real-world plants.

 

Works Cited

Wpengine. “Control Engineering Magazine.” Control Engineering, www.controleng.com/magazine/.

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