ELLI 2 – Excellent Teaching and Learning in Engineering Science

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


Engineering education is changing as quickly as the technology behind the transformation of manufacturing towards Industry 4.0. Higher education is supposed to be more digital, flexible, and individual than ever before. Accordingly, current engineering students should be better prepared for future working environments. Such a profound shift requires research for engineering education on a technological as well as methodological and didactical level.

Therefore, the cooperative project ELLI 2 between RWTH Aachen University, Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), and TU Dortmund University, which is 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
• Entrepreneurship

At TU Dortmund University, engineers from the 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. 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.

The ELLI team in front of the remote cell for material characterization

Thanks to a strong team effort, the software and hardware development for the virtual as well as remote laboratories was advanced extensively this year. The remote cell for material characterization was extended by a compression test, which is now available at the Zwick Z250 via remote control in addition to the already existing remote tensile test. Teachers as well as students can perform the new compression test in order to teach or learn about flow curves at higher strains or the effect of asymmetry under tensile and compressive loads. In addition, the way of accessing the equipment as well as its control were updated. This further improves the system’s stability and enables the access from various mobile and non-mobile devices. The new system was used in full scale operation for the first time by the new MMT students who, before starting their master’s program at TU Dortmund University, performed a tensile test via remote control from their home countries as part of an international collaboration task.

At this year’s International Conference on Remote Engineering und Virtual Instrumentation (REV) in Bangaluru, India, the team showed the most recent developments. Along with the project presentations the conference attendees could test the technologies themselves in a demo session. Alessandro Selvaggio was awarded the Best Paper Award for his article on the development of the remote compression test. At the conference for digital higher education in NRW (e.Learn NRW) the remote laboratories were offered to the attendees in an interactive format. On top of that, the newly founded Community Working Group on Remote Laboratories was promoted. Using the current labora- The ELLI team in front of the remote cell for material characterization tories, the educators were encouraged to join the working group and invest in this topic.

Apart from the contributions to these conferences, an article was submitted to the book Hochschullehre & Industrie 4.0, published at the wbv-Verlag. It deals with the challenges of changing technologies and how higher education needs to adapt to these changes. The article draws a visionary outlook on engineering education in the world of tomorrow and connects this to the current developments in the ELLI project. The reader is encouraged to rethink current trends in engineering education and open research questions are presented.

One of the project’s goals is – besides improving education at the institute and promote its digitization – to use its resources to support other institutes and chairs in and outside the department of mechanical engineering to actively invest in their future education. For this purpose, a new workshop series was initiated by the ELLI members from the IUL and the center for higher education, in which scientific assistants from other institutions can learn about good digital engineering education based on the experiences from the ELLI project. The IUL introduces the topics of flipped classroom concepts, the use of mobile apps in lectures, and the incorporation of remote laboratories in online lectures. The ELLI team not only supervises the IUL’s internal lectures and exercises, but also helps other research projects, like the TRR 188, to generate high quality educational content based on their research findings.

Another important mission of the project is to engage young scholars and school teachers to use modern, digital technologies as part of their teaching/ learning experience. For this purpose, a workshop on 3D printing, specifically designed for school teachers, was held for the second time at the IUL. The teachers came from very different backgrounds like arts, math, and biology, yet the workshop was able to provide the necessary skills to all of them to incorporate the 3D printing technology in their respective field at school. The KARL-KOLLE Foundation donated a 3D printer starter kit to each participant after completing the workshop. By this, the teachers could work with the new technology right away and inspire their students to get involved not only in engineering, but also in other fields of STEM. The starter kit is well suited for a low-level entry to work and modify a seemingly complex machine as well as to learn about designing and coding. Aside from this workshop, the ELLI team contributed to all other TU Dortmund University initiatives, like MinTU, Girls’Day, and more, where scholars can actively participate in special university lectures or workshop and become interested in studying STEM subjects.