Country's first ever virtual lab kick-starts

The government on Thursday introduced a first-ever virtual science and engineering laboratory in the country to provide students of higher educational institutions a facility to perform their required laboratory experiments online.

The laboratory can facilitate experiments in 97 fields in nine disciplines of science and engineering including electronics and communications, civil engineering, computer science and engineering, biotechnology and biomedical engineering.

They cover between 60-80 per cent of the syllabi approved by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) and University Grants Commission (UGC), Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said after launching the laboratory here.

Although, the current focus of the laboratory is to facilitate students of science and engineering colleges, secondary school students can also realise its benefit by using the virtual experiment facilities offered in its physical and chemical discipline segment.
“It is a work in progress. The laboratory will further be enriched,” Sibal said. It should be noted that not all physical laboratories are amendable to virtualisation, and hence, not good candidates for virtual labs, a HRD Ministry official, however, said.

The laboratory, which can be accessed by anyone through by logging on www.vlab.co.in, offers two different mediums of conducting experiments.

In the simulation-based virtual laboratory mode, the experiments have been modelled using mathematical equations. The simulations will be carried out remotely at a high-end server, and the results communicated to the student over the internet. “Simulation based virtual labs are scalable and can cater to a large number of simultaneous users,” a senior Ministry official said..

In the remote-triggered virtual laboratory mode, the actual experiments will be triggered remotely using real instruments. The output of the experiment so conducted will be communicated back to the student over the internet.

“This class of Virtual Labs gives the student the output of real-time experiments. Typically, time-slots are booked before conducting such experiments,” the official said.

While simulation based laboratory can be accessed by anyone, a user will have to get registered at the website first and then book a slot from the slot chart to access the remote triggered laboratory, the official added. The virtual laboratory has been developed by the experts from Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institute of Information Technology-Hyderabad, National Institute of technology-Karnataka, Dayalbagh University-Agra and College of Engineering-Pune in collaboration with the HRD Ministry.

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