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Remote Teaching of Unit Labs For Chemical Engineering Undergraduates During Covid-19
The unit labs in chemical engineering offer a unique learning experience where seniors are exposed to real-world chemical processes. They get hands-on activity on laboratory scaled industrial equipment and get a better insight into chemical engineering fundamentals that they learned in their sophomore and junior years. In these labs, the students work in groups to conduct the experiment, collect and analyze data, and finally write and present their technical reports. With the arrival of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the whole education system and the setting were disrupted. The instruction mode moved online to maintain a healthy and safe campus environment and minimize the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the community. It was challenging to teach unit labs in a virtual environment with the same sort of engagement of students. However, the instructor provided a learning environment and hands-on like experience virtually to the students while conducting a total of three virtual unit process experiments during the semester. The interactive simulations for the chemical engineering processes were utilized that stimulate real experimentation, and data was collected virtually from those stimulations. The analysis, writing, and presentation of the report were done as a group assignment in the same way as the students have done in their face to face classes. Further, educational videos related to their experiment from the Journal of Visualized Experiments and assignments were also supplemented to help students comprehend the material more effectively. We expect that the students had experiential learning with interactive simulations that provided them hands-on like experience for unit processes along with other activities and supplement material. In conclusion, the availability and the use of modern technology and educational tools can be a key to teach effectively and make learning possible virtually even during such an unprecedented time.