A New Concept for Conducting Textile Engineering Lab Classes to maximize individual participation

TF Correspondent

In any engineering study, effective and individual participation is very essential in the lab classes. Textile is not exceptional to that. Engineering students can have a clear concept on a topic only if they can do the lab experiments effectively and on their own.  In the cases of lab classes in wet processing or apparel manufacturing, the glassware, dyes and chemicals and apparel machines are relatively cheaper as well as require very little space in the lab so that the university can easily afford to have enough facilities like machines, apparatus and equipment, dyes and chemicals etc. as a result the students get the opportunity to do the experiments on their own. However, in the cases of spinning, weaving, knitting and textile testing etc., the machines are very robust and/or very expensive so that university cannot afford to purchase more than one machine of each type and all the students of lab classes have to do the experiment in the same machine at a time.

mahabub-sirProf. Md. Mahbubul Haque, Ph.D., Head, Dept. of Textile Engineering Daffodil International University mentioned that, “In most of the cases this types of lab class becomes very ineffective as only few students get the opportunity to do the experimental works on their own hand and majority of the students are forced to remain idle or do nothing. As a result a large number of students are deprived from proper lab instruction.  Keeping this in mind, Department of TE, DIU has introduced a new lab concept for the first time in the textile arena of Bangladesh.”

The concept lies in the fact that all the lab experiments (of the whole semester) are being conducted in every lab session and all the students of the class are divided into small groups depending on the number of experiment. The greater the lab experiments/machines the smaller will be the number of students in the group. However in most of cases 3-4 students makes a group and do the experiment and all these groups perform a separate experiment in every lab session. In the next lab session the lab groups just swap and go for a different experiment. In this way, in a semester of 13 weeks (say) 13 different experiments are performed by each group.  Therefore the new concept allows very few students in the lab groups so that the students can do the experiments on their own thus learning is maximised and perfected. As the students can do the experiment on their own they cannot escape the lab works (intentionally) and learns a lot.  The lab works were also designed in such a way that they must participate in the data collection, data analysis and calculation (where necessary) on the same day leaving no scope for copying from others.

In implementing the new concept several inconveniences were encountered, however all of them were solved very successfully.  In previous a faculty member used to manage the whole lab class alone, this was because there was only one experiment in one session but as per new concept there are 12-15 experiments are being conducted at a time so that a single faculty member cannot mange.  This has been solved by the following ways e.g.

  • Briefing the first 2 lab sessions about all the experiments among all students somewhat like theory classes but inside the lab. The faculty members also provide the students with the lab sheets, lab manuals procedure of data collection etc. so that they can get an overall idea and prepare them well before coming to every class.
  • Preparing YouTube videos for each experiment. Once completed, the YouTube will be uploaded in a designated site so that the students can watch the video during doing their experiment.

dr-mahabubThere was another problem we faced with the concept was that, the lab class (es) based on the last theory lectures were being conducted in the first lab session which might have been unfamiliar for the relatively weak students. The department solved this problem by designing our curriculum in a way that the theory classes will be conducted in one semester and the corresponding lab classes will be conducted in the following semester. This will again be very beneficial as the students will be able to study a particular course for two consecutive semesters, which will enrich and maximise their overall subject knowledge and learning.

Prof. Md. Mahbubul Haque informed this reporter, “In previous system, the less attentive students were forced to escape the lab works and many of them used to spend their lab time idle, but the new concept ensures the direct involvement of every student in every lab experiment. As was mentioned, after implementation of the new concept, the students will be more confident in their working place.”

During working in the industry, textile engineers always have to face new machines and instruments on continuous basis. Lot of textile engineers may not be very comfortable with the new machines as they are unfamiliar to them. However if the students do the labs by their own hand, as per the new concept, they will be more confident and comfortable in handling any new and unfamiliar machine.