ELLI2 – Excellent Teaching and Learning in Engineering Education

Funding BMBF/DLR
Project-ID 01 PL 16082 C
Project leader Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. E.h. A. E. Tekkaya
Contact Joshua Grodotzki M. Sc. (Head of research group)
Dipl.-Inf. Alessandro Selvaggio
Siddharth Upadhya M. Sc.


The term Industry 4.0 nowadays combines many recent developments and research topics which will permanently transform the way how manufacturing is done in modern facilities. In a similar fashion, the required skill sets of engineers, who are sought after to implement this revolution, will shift. Therefore, engineering education faces an equivalent challenge to modernize itself in such a way that future generations of engineers are well equipped with the required knowledge and the understanding of the game-changing technologies to drive this transformation. Such a change, especially in higher engineering education, can be achieved only with specific research dedicated to this field.
Therefore, the cooperative project ELLI 2 between RWTH Aachen University, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and TU Dortmund University, which is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the Teaching Quality Pact since 2011, focuses on the research on teaching and learning in engineering sciences

The project consists of four core areas:

  • Remote labs and virtual learning environments
  • Globalization
  • Student Life Cycle
  • Entrepreneurshipy

At TU Dortmund University, engineers from IUL together with engineering education experts from the Center for Higher Education collaborate to resolve the questions regarding how future generations of engineers should be educated best.

The rotary draw bending machine by transfluid is the basis for the remote tube bending lab

Within the core area of “Remote labs and virtual learning environments” two activities are mainly conducted by members of the IUL: (1) further development of the tele-operative testing cell and integration of new experiments as well as (2) the virtual laboratory for forming technology. With the delivery and installation of the rotary draw bending machine, transfluid DB 2060-CNC-SE-F, and the specimen handling robot, KUKA KR90 R3700 K, the development of the remote tube bending lab was moved towards the next stage. In the upcoming year, the programs currently under development will be connected with the machines and first trial runs will be performed. By incorporating the new remote lab into existing lectures as well as by the development of a novel hands-on tube bending lab with a focus on the process limits the students can combine the theory of the tube bending process with experimental observations. By such labs the understanding and, thus, eventually the control of the process is fostered beyond classical lecturing approaches.

The existing remote lab for material characterization was successfully incorporated into the forming technology lecture 2018 at the WH Gelsenkirchen. The evaluation showed that 74 % of the students involved rated the use of the remote lab as a helpful tool to connect theory with practice. The remote labs developed by the faculty partners ISF, Institute of Machining Technology, and wpt, Department of Materials Test Engineering, are currently in their implementation phase. The remote machining lab by the ISF connects a Pocket-NC machine to the web, such that the students can gain a better understanding of machining process limits, for instance by observing surface defects. For handling the specimens of wpt’s fatigue test remote lab, the IUL provided a mini-robot which can handle conventionally as well as additively manufactured specimens. Comparing the results, the students can learn about important properties of these products. Both labs will be equipped with web-streaming cameras, enabling the students to study the processes not just based on data, but also visually.

Aside from advancing the development of labs for university students, ELLI 2 also aims at bringing students and teachers from other educational institutions in contact with novel technologies. Together with the KARL-KOLLEFoundation, the IUL ELLI 2 team hosted a workshop on 3D printing where students and teachers could learn about the possibilities and limits of this new technology. After being introduced to the necessary software, they could design and print their own individualized shopping trolley coin. Using similar concepts, ELLI 2 supported the TU Dortmund activities such as MinTU, docamping, SchnupperUni, Girls’ Day as well as the ScienceNightRuhr. Here, interested students, teachers, and parents could get involved with modern manufacturing technologies as well as augmented and virtual reality technologies used in engineering education.

In 2018, ELLI 2 hosted the “Engineers-without-Borders” challenge for the second time. A total of 60 students were excited to participate together with over 25 students from partnering universities, such as Aachen, Bochum and recently joined Hamburg, Bottrop, and Mittelhessen universities. During this engineering challenge the students have to solve engineering-related problems from Kenya that have been identified by members of the Engineers-without-Borders association, based on their expertise and skills. The best solutions will be implemented by the association in the country to help people improve their living conditions. At the Future Day of the DINI (The German Initiative for Network Information) ELLI 2 gave an impulse talk and a subsequent special topic workshop where solutions for teaching and learning with augmented and virtual reality were shown. These results were also presented at the DeLFI (E-Learning Congress of Informatics) and the DGfE Congress (German Educational Science Association). For the participants of the REV 2018 (International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation) the excursion to the experimental hall of IUL was a unique chance to actively explore the work of ELLI 2 in the fields of virtual and augmented reality as well as remote laboratories.