What is it?
The UTS Remote Laboratory facility is the largest of its kind worldwide. It enables students to remotely control laboratory equipment and to perform experiments – similar to what they would do in a classroom setting, but over the internet.
Students can access the laboratory online from anywhere and at any time of the day or week, giving them much more flexibility in their studies. Unlike simulations, the UTS Remote Laboratory uses real, physical equipment that has been instrumented with cameras and connected to the internet.
The experiments vibrate, move around and make noise, exposing students to a real-world learning experience in their own time and as often as they want. In addition to traditional, hands-on facilities, the UTS Remote Laboratories give science and engineering students a safe, flexible, high-tech approach to gaining practical experience. Over 1,000 UTS students use the facility every semester.
The Remote Laboratory Evolution
Since its first creation in 2001, the variety of experiments available in the UTS Remote Laboratories has grown considerably, now covering more than 40 individual experiments in industrial, civil, computer, electronic and mechanical engineering, as well as science.
In recent years, UTS has also offered access to over 2,000 students from other universities and high schools across Australia, some living in remote locations. This provides more students with the opportunity to access a wider range of experiments which may not be available locally. It also allows universities to save on laboratory expenditure while sharing expensive or highly specialised equipment online.
For a tour of the experiments on offer in the UTS Remote Laboratory and other universities that are part of the Labshare consortium, visit the Labshare website (opens external site).
The future of Remote Labs
The UTS Remote Laboratory as part of the Labshare consortium has phenomenal potential across the secondary, VET and research sectors. Labshare is currently investigating the provision of remote laboratories for high schools through its spin-off initiative, Labshare for Schools.
Pilot trials have just concluded in NSW while further trials are planned throughout the different states to explore remote laboratory applications across the secondary science curriculum. Additionally, as scientific research has become increasingly dependent upon sophisticated and expensive research infrastructure, there are significant opportunities to improve research productivity and collaboration through use of remote labs technology.
Remote labs can facilitate access to Australia's extensive pool of valuable research infrastructure and data that are currently unavailable to researchers due to organisational or geographic barriers.