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U Michigan Engineering Students Get Hands-on Learning at Home

The University of Michigan's College of Engineering has dedicated $500,000 to help create high-quality learning experiences for students in hybrid and remote courses — particularly when it comes to hands-on projects. Half of the funding was used to design courses that would enable some students to attend in person while others participate remotely (the hybrid model), while the other half was spent on materials to create at-home project kits for students.

"The idea was to tell our faculty members, 'We know fall is going to be a challenge. You know what you're doing with your class. Here's funding to help you take it to where it needs to be,'" said Joanna Millunchick, associate dean for undergraduate education and professor of materials science and engineering, in a statement.

Among the examples of hands-on, remote learning shared by the university in a news announcement:

Building pulse oximeters at home. Students in a biomedical engineering course will learn about diagnostics, medical devices and patient monitoring through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help them learn about different methods for diagnosing COVID, they will receive project kits to build a pulse oximeter, a device that measures oxygen concentrations in blood.  

Circuit kits and digital lab experiences. In several electrical engineering courses, students will receive kits with resistors, capacitors, amplifiers and other circuit elements, and assemble and test their own circuits to demonstrate key concepts. In addition, instructors are enhancing on-campus lab equipment with document cameras and other tools so that students can view instruments and data remotely in real time.

Remote operation of robot arms. In a robotics course, cameras attached to robotic arms have been set up around laboratory benches. Students learning from home can send their code to have the robots perform tasks, and watch the results.

Radio antennas in the yard. Students in Michigan Engineering's Multidisciplinary Design Program who are working on NASA's Sun Radio Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE) project will receive radio antenna arrays to set up at home. The will use the equipment to collect data on their local radio wave scenes, to help them develop software for SunRISE that will record solar radio emissions from space.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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