Dr Ben Hanson, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering
Since his appointment as Lecturer in Dynamics and Control in 2005, Ben has been committed to improving teaching quality by integrating his research interests in technology with feedback systems.
Remote-operated laboratory research
Already, while an RA at the University of Leeds, Ben was interested in using remote-control of real laboratory equipment, using the internet to control experimental variables and to transfer data and experiment results. At UCL, he received funding to employ a PhD student to create a large rig to study the vibrations of structures such as wind turbine blades. Since 2006, four post-grad students have been involved in the creation and development of this rig giving them experience of innovation in engineering education. Ben also used web-based questionnaires incorporated into online experiments in order to get better student feedback.
- Personalised experimental parameters to avoid plagiarism and to encourage participation
- Options for students to re-visit or repeat experiments during report-writing or revision – to strengthen links between theory and practical work
- Provision of immediate feedback on their results
- Ability to share lab facilities between institutions and, potentially, internationally
Ben is acutely aware that remote labs cannot replace existing face-to-face labs and indeed he has published his thinking on the way in which the remote and the face-to-face can operate. A very caring and conscientious teacher, Ben is committed to continuous improvement of his teaching – and he is equally committed, together with his very active research work, to disseminating his ideas, having already published nine publications on innovative teaching.
As Ben says: "Teaching is about creating those moments where the world suddenly makes a little more sense."