Coronavirus and on-line training: How this firm’s digital labs helped engineering schools throughout pandemic

MATLAB and Simulink are being utilized by over 6,500 schools and universities globally in quite a lot of technical disciplines.

Coronavirus and training: With the tip of coronavirus pandemic nowhere in sight, distant working and distant studying proceed to be the norm globally. While colleges and lessons have shifted to on-line mode of instructing utilizing video conferencing options, some facets of training like practicals performed in labs have been a difficulty. Without these practicals, the information college students acquire stays merely theoretical in nature, making it troublesome for them to use it in actual life at a later stage. This is an much more critical challenge in terms of on-line lessons performed by engineering schools like IITs, the place college students take admission hoping to be able to enter into the world of automation, AI, robotics, and many others. Without sensible classes, nonetheless, the aim of those establishments stands to be defeated.

The resolution nonetheless, got here within the type of MathWorks, a mathematical computing software program developer. Its options, together with MATLAB and Simulink, assist in endeavor specialised duties in varied technological areas. Founded in 1984, MathWorks has been working in India for over 10 years now.

Dr Lakshminarayan Viju Ravichandran, who leads the Education Technical Evangelist workforce at MathWorks India, works with universities right here that target the appliance of MATLAB and Simulink in curriculum improvement and analysis. In an unique interplay with Financial Express Online, he shared extra particulars about MATLAB and Simulink. “MATLAB, the language of engineers and scientists, is a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numeric computation. Simulink is a block diagram environment for dynamic system simulation and Model-Based Design of multidomain and embedded engineering systems. MATLAB and Simulink are used throughout the automotive, aerospace, communications, electronics, and industrial automation industries as fundamental tools for research and development. They are also used for modeling and simulation in increasingly technical fields, such as financial services and computational biology,” he stated.

Demonstration of a easy mass-spring-damper setup by way of MATLAB App Designer which is utilized in many first- and second-year engineering programs.

Giving extra particulars about how the 2 options are useful in an training establishment, he stated, “Using MATLAB and Simulink, academicians can build engaging virtual labs by incorporating modeling and simulation, remotely accessing hardware and home lab kits. They can recreate the learning outcomes of lab exercises to give students hands-on experience using real-world modeling and simulation tools. MATLAB Apps allows students to experiment and learn foundational concepts in science and engineering without focusing on the code or software-specific skills. MATLAB and Simulink Projects provide opportunities to support virtual collaboration with lab activities or student design projects. Academicians use Live Editor to create lab activities with MATLAB code or an interactive lab manual using live scripts. Simulink, being a block diagram-based environment to model dynamic systems, can address the visual component of circuit labs, communication labs and mechanical labs in the form of blocks.”

MATLAB and Simulink are being utilized by over 6,500 schools and universities globally in quite a lot of technical disciplines. In India, a whole lot of establishments are making use of those digital labs, Dr Ravichandran stated, together with a number of IITs, NITs, and authorities and personal schools. “In addition to creating our own library of examples, MathWorks is collecting virtual lab examples from educators across the world that use MATLAB and Simulink in teaching,” he stated.

But why are such digital labs vital? Dr Ravichandran solutions. “Teaching methodologies need to support different learning approaches as well as inspiring and engaging students. Project-based learning is an effective way to achieve this. By getting students working hands-on, they explore real-world problems and bring theory to life. Key to the success are projects that are fun and inspiring for students – they can work on applications ranging from robotics to signal processing to control systems. In doing so, they’re also learning approaches and skills that are relevant. By extending this approach to incorporate industry-standard software such as MATLAB and Simulink, instructors not only keep students motivated but also prepare them for Industry 4.0 careers,” he stated.

Talking concerning the issues that college students study to deal with utilizing these options, he stated, “The MathWorks solutions introduce students to the fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence which include mathematics, statistics. At higher semesters, machine learning and deep learning tools are introduced. In the field of robotics and autonomous systems, the students get exposed to control systems, computer vision and interfacing with Robot Operating System (ROS). Electrification is another area we see lots of interest in, in India. Courses such as power system analysis and power electronics form the basis of battery management systems in electric vehicles. The workflows are used by leading companies in the development of their products and by getting exposure to these workflows at the college level, the student today is well-positioned to solve not just the real-world problems of today, but also that of tomorrow.”

Semantic Segmentation to determine transferring objects, roads and different surfaces – a key idea utilized in automated driving – launched in an Image Processing and Computer Vision course.

MathWorks additionally got here to assistance from establishments in the course of the pandemic. “In August 2020, the MathWorks India Education team conducted a series of webinars on Teaching with MATLAB and Simulink to assist the faculty move to an online mode of instruction with MATLAB and Simulink in the academic space. By addressing the learning outcomes of courses in various disciplines, we were able to provide an initial start to the evolution of an online teaching process by multiple professors. This is an ongoing process since the challenges faced by academicians in India are unique and the MathWorks Education team continues to work with the professors in this space to address the challenges in online teaching and learning continually. Understanding the challenges and the need to share practices globally for the community of educators, we also created a distance learning community online. This is a world-wide community for educators who are teaching remotely or online using MathWorks tools. It houses resources, such as articles, code examples, and videos, as well as an area where community members can ask questions or hold discussions around best practices in distance learning,” he stated.

Talking concerning the response they’ve obtained from college students and professors to date, Dr Ravichandran stated, “The response from the faculty members who had little time to switch to an online mode of instruction in this pandemic has been positive. Interactivity and engagement is a challenge with online learning. Professors have been addressing this by incorporating interactive learning components using MATLAB and Simulink in their coursework. The students are taking the classes from different parts of the world. Students with limited computation resources and bandwidth access MATLAB through browser via MATLAB Online.”

“For example, Professor Chiranjoy Chattopadhyay from Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur implemented a fully virtual strategy for his course on Parallel Computing. He used the browser version of MATLAB also called MATLAB Online, the self-paced online training course MATLAB Onramp, and MATLAB Grader for automated grading of programming assignments. His feedback was, ‘Perhaps the biggest realization we’ve come to is that during a lockdown, learning objectives do not need to change, as long as you adapt to the situation by implementing the right infrastructure and tools’,” he added.

He additionally talked concerning the methods through which digital labs are benefiting educators. “Using MATLAB and Simulink, educators can teach virtual or remote labs, or teach with hardware kits to increase student participation and active learning. They can create visually engaging lab activities, Simulate laboratory equipment and processes with Simulink. MATLAB projects to track group work and control lab activities. Live scripts can be used to explore course concepts and create interactive reports or electronic lab notebooks. Virtual labs simulate a process, test, apparatus or activity. On a remote mode, students can access the hardware on campus or if one has hardware at home like Arduino and raspberry pi kits they can use those kits or even mobile devices to collect data,” Dr Ravichandran stated.

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