KAUST launches first virtual lab for distance learning

  • Miles
  • May 8, 2019
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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched its first virtual lab to serve as an online platform for distance learning on semiconductor fabrication.

The vFabLab, short for Virtual Fabrication Lab, is an online-based virtual environment designed to help training on semiconductor device fabrication processes and associated complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology. The virtual lab, developed by the Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering division (CEMSE) at KAUST, trains users in end-to-end device fabrication sequence using well-tested process protocols. Each training session is followed by an interactive Q&A session.

“I was inspired by the vision to provide access to thousands of students and other enthusiasts who do not have access to expensive cleanroom facilities,” said Dr. Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, a professor in the electric engineering program at CEMSE.

“vFabLab intends to provide the crucial element missing in online education, which is an experimental module through labs,” he added.

At the postgraduate level, distance learning is a gateway for students around the world to have an open access to knowledge and to engage with educational materials and approaches profoundly different from their customary ones.

“Distance learning is an important tool to provide enhanced learning opportunities to our globally mobile student population,” said Dr. Tony Chan, president of KAUST.

“In everything we do, we aim to be forward-looking. Distance learning fits perfectly with this aim,” Chan added.

KAUST’s first involvement in distance learning took place in 2017, in the CEMSE division. CEMSE and Blue Waters Online Course co-produced a MOOC (massive open online course) on high-performance computing featuring Professor David Keyes, director of the Extreme Computing Research Center (ECRC) at KAUST. Two years later, the vFabLab was introduced, taking e-learning to the next level.

“The virtual lab is an exciting idea to take a branch of science that has always been gated by the availability of an expensive lab,” said Professor Mootaz El-Nozahy, dean of CEMSE. “At KAUST, we are trying to take this concept to the farthest, thereby sharing our infrastructure with the world.”

The vFabLab was presented on April 24 during a webinar organized and hosted by the IEEE Electron Devices Society.

Established in 2009, KAUST is a graduate-level research university located on the shores of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. The university is dedicated to advancing science and technology through interdisciplinary research, education and innovation. Research conducted by students, faculty, scientists and engineers aims to address the world’s pressing scientific and technological challenges related to food, water, energy and the environment.

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