India- July 2022: The State Board of Technical Education and Training (SBTET), a board created under the authority of Government of Telangana, has signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS) Pilani Work Integrated Learning Programmes (WILP) division, in an effort to design, develop, and deploy Technology Enabled Laboratories (TEL) for polytechnics and engineering institutions in Telangana.
The TEL project shall be funded by SBTET and would be executed in multiple phases for a period of two years i.e. from designing the remote and virtual labs in select domains and programmes to developing the software interface and selecting the lab equipment, to developing lab exercises and associated digital content, and finally training several faculty members who shall deploy the labs in few select institutions.
Virtual and remote labs support experiential learning and innovative solutions
With an aim to provide comprehensive experiential learning for the students, over the years, BITS Pilani WILP has deployed about 10 remote labs (physical labs, which are accessible from anywhere and at any time) and 26 virtual labs (that allow for software simulation studies of various phenomena, which may be extremely challenging to study in the real environment or physical laboratories).
The experiential learning that is acquired by leveraging these labs (via simulations, hands-on, and other practical assignments that involve the use of hardware and software) helps students to connect practice with theory — thereby enabling them to foster innovative ideas and solutions to address various challenges and opportunities in the real world.
Affordable, sustainable, flexible, and scalable access to state-of-the-art labs
Besides multiple other endeavors, SBTET also aims to ensure that the students pursuing technical education across the state should have access to quality labs that enable experiential learning. However, the setup of labs is not just about software, cloud hosting, and access control, as it requires significant investments and an entire ecosystem, including vital instructions, license management, and support.
Through this collaboration with BITS Pilani WILP, SBTET intends to develop a system that primarily leverages the scale of operations efficiently (considering that these labs could cater to the learning requirements of thousands of students across the state of Telangana) — so that various challenges, including those related to manpower, logistics, and costs could be mitigated successfully.
Speaking on the occasion of signing the MoU, Prof. G. Sundar, Director, Off-Campus Programmes & Industry Engagement, BITS Pilani, remarked, “Over the last several years, we at BITS Pilani have designed, developed, and deployed several remote and virtual labs especially for the Work Integrated Learning Programmes for working professionals from across India and the globe. Such labs carry immense potential to be developed as shared resources, which can be used by students from many institutions. As an Institution of Eminence, I am delighted that we will be sharing some of our best practices and expertise in this domain with the world beyond BITS Pilani for the larger good of students, other institutions, and society. And this collaboration with SBTET is our first major step in this regard, which makes this collaboration even more special.”
Post the official commencement of the TEL project, Shri Navin Mittal, IAS, Commissioner, Collegiate Education & Technical Education, Government of Telangana, said, “From technical education’s perspective, optimal skills development in our students certainly requires them to have access to the relevant experiential learning opportunities; with this in mind, we had visited the virtual and remote labs at the Hyderabad campus of BITS Pilani. We realized that their labs not only facilitated hands-on experiences, but also provided an environment for extensive research even in some of the most sophisticated domains. The awe-inspiring idea of having such labs, which could be shared by thousands of students across our state, will be a reality soon. And through this collaboration with BITS Pilani WILP, we also extend our acknowledgement of their overall contributions towards the technology vision for the state of Telangana.”