Among the reasons that are avoiding the compliance of the European sustainable growth objectives and provoking the unemployment situation in Europe are the deficits in qualified and skilled graduates and professionals. As an instrument against this situation, Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH) in Sweden launched the Virtual Instrument Systems in Reality, VISIR, at end of 2006. VISIR is a remote laboratory for wiring and measuring electronics circuits on a breadboard remotely.
VISIR allows realizing real measurement on physical equipment, which is not possible to achieve using simulation software. So far, several universities have already implemented VISIR after BTH. All the VISIR implementations have provoked a considerable impact in different grades and masters, related with engineering education, in these universities. As a real laboratory, VISIR has some limitations, as the mounting components on the relay switching matrix that is limited due to the limited number of nodes and component boards.
PILAR project proposes a solution that aims to interconnect all VISIR systems, with each other in order to create a grid laboratory shared and accessed by all the participants, expanding and empowering existing systems to a new level of service and capacity. This will allow expanding the application range: each university may install certain circuits on its own VISIR and utilize another type of circuits installed on a VISIR of other universities and vice versa.
The project will then provide:
1. A web-based federation of VISIR laboratories and includes a free-access repository for sharing learning resources. Members of this cloud will be the VISIR community partners.
2. The VISIR federation will offer a number of remote labs in the form of services to teachers and students at schools and universities.
3. A teacher may reserve any workbench within the cloud for a particular time period.
4. It would also be possible for organization without VISIR to participate.
PILAR partnership is composed by 8 participants from 5 European countries: Five universities: BTH (Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden), the origin of VISIR, UNED (National Distance Education University, Spain), CUAS (Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Austria), IPP (Instituto Politecnico do Porto, Portugal) and UDEUSTO (University of Deusto, Spain), the International Association of Online Engineering (IAOE, Austria); EVM Project Management Experts, SL, (Spain), which will co-lead and coordinate different activities and OMNIA, (the Joint Authority of Education and Regional Center, Finland) an education provider that will co-lead the training activities.
PILAR partnership will enhance the learning, teaching and practical training at university and high school levels, by allowing to develop many different electronic practices through a newer and richer level of digital integration. The possibility of real practices at almost real time for many different student profiles will help to develop basic and transversal skills all through the involved countries and, as a second step, all through any interested country. This new VISIR labs federation will also help to address low achievement in basic skills through more effective teaching methods, in a totally new dimension.
The main objectives pursued by PILAR are:
A) Building an integrated platform of all the remote VISIR implementations in CUAS, UNED, IPP, UDEUSTO and BTH. A reliable, highly available, unique international VISIR platform federation that integrates all the different resources used by VISIR in each of the partners and that will be accessed as a federation of remote labs.
B) Once established, this federation will be completely opened to other partners in Europe, through easy gateways to the federation, allowing to extend the capabilities of PILAR to much more interested educational institutions.
C) Building a set of remote practices, based in this new platform, for electrical and electronics circuits, at school, grade and master level, and also as a lifelong learning activity, that will be offered as remote lab services, to students in all the partners institutions and, as a second step, to anyone interested.
D) Those new remote lab VISIR Internet services must allow, in a transparent way, the use of the best set of remote learning services of each partner in each moment.
During the three years project a number of dissemination and learning actions will take place to present and promote the PILAR federation; Five workshops (Multiplier Events), associated with European conferences, in which the main results of each phase of the project will be shown. During the last one we will show the complete system working and we will offer the services publicly to any interested institution. As well as, four learning and teaching activities, in which different partners will show how to use, from the point of view of students and teachers, the remote VISIR services offered by the PILAR federation.