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Educational tech grant to create virtual hydraulics training module

David Neri and Colleen Carow | Nov 7, 2016
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Educational tech grant to create virtual hydraulics training module

David Neri and Colleen Carow | Nov 7, 2016

A group of engineering technology and management faculty at the Ohio University has received a $25,000 Education and Technology Foundation grant from the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) to create a cloud-based, 3D graphic tool that will enable students to practice basic pneumatic and hydraulic circuits anywhere, any time.

Headed by Associate Professor Jesus Pagan, primary investigator, working with Associate Professor Yuqui You and Emeritus Professor Will Reeves, the “Interactive Simulation Modules for Pneumatic and Hydraulic Circuits” project integrates new teaching technologies with traditional class content while reducing the need for additional equipment at the Russ College’s Parker Hannifin Motion and Control Laboratory.

“In my class, about 40 students are required to design, analyze, and practice about 50 different hydraulic circuits using one training panel,” You explained. “Now, students will be able to design and test the circuits through simulation, via the Internet,” she said.

Pagan said that the currently, the faculty team is collecting components for the module.

“We hope first to create a digital library of what we will use for the module, such as pneumatic and hydraulic cylinders,” he said. “Based on this library, we can use these components within the software to simulate them in the model.”

Students are assisting with the tool’s development as well.

“We have a student worker, Jacob Motts, creating 3D SolidWorks models of all the hydraulic components that we will be using in the module,” You said. “Jesus will import all the models into Simulmatik, a simulation software, and then he and I will create simulation modules to fit the requirements of the hydraulics class.”

According to Pagan, the first stage it to simulate basics cylinder movement, extension and retraction, but future goals include expanding the module to include more advanced systems.

“At the beginning, the modules are going to be simple circuitry,” said Pagan. “However, we hope to simulate more dynamic modules such as an excavator for the students to explore and experiment with.”

He hopes that the ease of accessibility will improve how students learn.

“We want to enhance their ability to understand fluid power and electromechanical systems, to cultivate an environment where students can take this free software home – to have a hands-on module for what they are studying, and then bring that knowledge back into the classroom.”