MARVEL - Virtual Laboratory in Mechatronics: Access to Remote and Virtual e-Learning



The aim of the pilot project MARVEL is to implement and evaluate learning environments for Mecha-tronics in Vocational Training, that allow students ubiquitous access to physical workshops and labora-tory facilities from remote places. The project will cover concepts that merge real and virtual as well as local and remote worlds in real time. This will support tele-actions and remote laboratory experiments in mixed reality work environments.

The requirements for MARVEL are based on demands of vocational colleges and their links to industry. Increasing pressure is placed on vocational training to expose students to real working environments and to support the training of multi-skilled technicians. This development led to a new type of job profile - a mix of electrical, mechanical and IT knowledge called Mechatronics. It is obvious, that the dissemination of mechatronic systems simultaneously requires adequate service techniques. Mechatronic components can easily be integrated into telematic environments and into corresponding work-concepts for tele-service such as remote diagnosis and maintenance of mechatronic systems. The emergence of remote service techniques has benefits for mechatronic engineering and plant construction industries as well as for their customers: Service problems can be diagnosed off site and local workers can be supported by a central team of remote experts. At the same time, communication between the manufacturer and the user of machinery is improved. This helps to reduce service costs while increasing the availability of systems.

The increasing dissemination of mechatronic systems in combination with tele-service implies new de-mands to the skilled worker in this field. Work in mechatronics requires cognitive and operational knowl-edge about building systems, diagnosis and maintenance. However, a significant change is that work pro-cesses nowadays are essentially characterised by the use of telemedial systems. Service staff in the pro-fessional field need the ability to achieve their aims in (tele) co-operation with others, and they should be able to co-operate in virtual and supra-national forms of organisation. On the other hand, there exist no elaborated concepts concerning pedagogical, technical and organisational aspects, particularly in the emerging field of mechatronics. Cultural differences and similarities concerning learning and collabora-tion styles can be noticed but haven't been integrated into curricula, courseware and teaching methods. Thus the MARVEL project is intended to stimulate learning concepts, that serve an actual need in the mechatronics industry.

Main target groups of the MARVEL project are students in vocational education and training in Mecha-tronics. Main teaching subjects are system control, maintenance, process monitoring, automation technol-ogy of networked mechatronic plant and machinery on the basis of remote techniques (tele-services). The MARVEL concept is intended also to have impacts on life long learning and extended vocational training of full time workers (mobility and flexibility through the combination of local and tele-courses). In the same way as our concept supports students mobility, it also helps vocational training institutions to offer mechatronic courses in cooperation with industry partners, using remote techniques.

MARVEL will produce evaluated working examples of remotely accessible practical environments to-gether with supporting e-learning and student assessment material for the following application fields: robotics, modular production systems and process control. This includes the creation of actual demon-stration models (learning scenarios and environments) in partner institutions and industry for evaluation purposes.