Computer-based laboratory simulation: evaluations of student perceptions
Laboratory experimentation in engineering is an essential part of the three main components in an engineer's formation. The theoretical constructs and models are imparted in lectures and tutorials. Workshop hands-on activity allows the student to acquire an understanding of the interaction of design and manufacture, and the constraints both impose. Characteristics of plant are investigated through experiment, and this aids the learner's understanding of the limitation of models in predicting performance. The learner also gains an appreciation of the nature of errors and of the construction of plant. But while the oil industry has brought prosperity to the North- East, it has also brought unique educational demands: the working arrangements place severe restrictions on part-time student attendance. Technicians work a block of two to four weeks offshore, followed by a similar period of leave. Different companies have different arrangements, and shift-change days.