(186f) Chemeng Remote Experience Augmented through Technology (CREATE) Labs – Training Leaders of the Future for Industry 4.0 | AIChE

(186f) Chemeng Remote Experience Augmented through Technology (CREATE) Labs – Training Leaders of the Future for Industry 4.0


Bhute, V. - Presenter, Imperial College London
Shah, U. V. - Presenter, Imperial College London
Campbell, J. I. - Presenter, Imperial College London
Brechtelsbauer, C. - Presenter, Imperial College London
Macey, A., Imperial College London
Sengupta, S., Imperial College London
Heng, J., Imperial College London
Inguva, P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Practical hands-on education is an integral component of STEM degrees in higher education institutions. While the complexity and independence in experiment design and practical problem selection for teaching increases with each year, all experiments go through several common stages including conceptualisation, design, hands-on operation, observation, data analysis, and presentation. Several of these steps need to be repeated based on observations. While these traditional in-person labs offer valuable training for undergraduate students, it may not prepare them well for their future careers as practitioners in industry. Owing to technological innovations, industry has seen significant use of state-of-the-art technologies including smart devices and automation of several tasks which minimises the hands-on operation of equipment. This switch is one of the key features of Industry 4.0. Chemical engineers, therefore, are expected to be well versed not only in the subject knowledge, but also have skills to communicate effectively with technologies and in remote teams.

In this work, we offer insights and evidence for effectively transforming traditional labs for remote or hybrid delivery and preparing students for Industry 4.0. We first discuss the evidence-based approaches for transforming hands-on labs into virtual, remote, or hybrid operation to achieve desired learning outcomes without compromising on soft skills and student self-efficacy [1]. We categorise different approaches based on claimed learning outcomes, availability of resources, technology, scheduling, and cost factors.

Using a case study for a 3rd year experiment [2], we discuss the implementation of Chemeng Remote Experience Augmented through TEchnology (CREATE) Labs which is a novel approach to deliver labs remotely with optimum in-person presence. They ensure that the experiments can be conducted by hybrid operation and students have to communicate effectively in teams working in person and remotely. Implementation is augmented with the use of video-led instructions, ‘digital-twin’ simulations, Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, and Microsoft HoloLens devices. Microsoft Teams is used as a platform technology for data sharing and communication. All traditional experiments for the three undergraduate year groups have been successfully delivered using the CREATE Labs approach over the last two years without compromising on student ability to understand, analyse or apply concepts. CRATE Labs were able to deliver experiential learning with no student presence during academic year (AY) 2020-21 and with 50% student presence during AY 2021-22. Indeed, their skills have been considerably enhanced for their future work environment where remote communication and operation is the norm.

We gathered evidence from various sources including surveys, interviews, and performance metrics to assess the effectiveness of CREATE labs implementation during the AY 2020-21 [3]. The overall delivery of CREATE labs during AY 2020–21 was positively received by both students and GTAs. The majority of students (>70%) reported experiencing effective communication with team members and GTAs and there was a strong positive correlation between communication and confidence in applying engineering concepts in the labs (χ2 = 79.96; p = 1.69 ×10− 10). 5–10% of students from all year groups reported that they disliked the lack of in-person activities. The majority (>90%) of GTAs assisting with experiments stated that they associated their role in the CREATE labs with that of a facilitator. There was a year-dependent response on perceived confidence in achieving learning objectives which is likely a result of multiple factors.

Finally, we reflect on our learning from implementations over the past two years and discuss a plan for preparing students for effective remote communication and gain experience in using smart technologies which are key components of Industry 4.0.


[1] V.J. Bhute, P. Inguva, U. Shah, C. Brechtelsbauer, Transforming traditional teaching laboratories for effective remote delivery—A review, Educ. Chem. Eng. 35 (2021) 96–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ece.2021.01.008.

[2] U. Shah, P. Inguva, B. Tan, H. Yuwono, V.J. Bhute, J. Campbell, A. Macey, C. Brechtelsbauer, CREATE labs – Student centric hybrid teaching laboratories, Educ. Chem. Eng. 37 (2021) 22–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ece.2021.07.004.

[3] V.J. Bhute, S. Sengupta, J. Campbell, U. V. Shah, J.Y.Y. Heng, C. Brechtelsbauer, Effectiveness of a large-scale implementation of hybrid labs for experiential learning at Imperial College London, Educ. Chem. Eng. 39 (2022) 58–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ece.2022.03.001.