X-ray imaging virtual online laboratory for engineering undergraduates

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Distant-learning engineering students (as well as those in face-to-face settings)
should acquire a basic background in radiation-matter interaction physics (usually
in the firsts semesters). Some members of this category of scholars may feel some
degree of aversion towards these types of pure sciences-related subjects (math,
physics, chemistry, etc.). In online learning scenarios, the average student is
already an adult (37 years old or above) and sees no special application of the
aforementioned courses in his/her current or future professional life. Besides,
online institutions tend to lean too much on applet-based simulations. These
animated and interactive examples, although might shed some light on the theory
associated to the studied physical processes, they also seem stripped down versions
of the real events and are felt as disconnected from current scientific environments
and engineering settings. For this reason, we describe a novel virtual lab
approach to teach the basics of the low-energy interactions present in average
X-ray settings. It combines real scientific simulation frameworks with modern
computing techniques such as virtualization, cloud infrastructures, containers,
networking and shared collaboration environments. It also fosters the use of
hugely demanded development tools and programming languages and addresses
the fundamentals of digital radiography and the linked electronic standards for
image storage and transmission. With this mixed approach that blends scientific
concepts, healthcare and state-of-the-art software solutions, our virtual labs have
proven (over a period of 5 academic terms) to be very pedagogic and attractive
(technically- and scientifically-wise) to online engineering undergraduates. For
the sake of completeness, we also propose a hands-on activity that mimics the
geometrical peculiarities of X-ray rooms with the help of visible light and cheap


  • X-ray physics, virtual laboratory, online learning, digital standards, collaborative environments, cloud technologies, containers
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019

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