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In the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronic of Riga Technical University (RTU) Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Transport and Aeronautics (FMETA) Automation Laboratory has been established in which students and academic staff members will be able to work with pneumatic and electro-pneumatic equipment. Pneumatic equipment works with compressed air, and in this laboratory students will be able to gain basic knowledge of how to work with it.
The Automation Laboratory is located in FMETA building in Ķīpsala, which was opened in autumn 2019 and it is equipped with modern «SMC Automation» pneumatic and electro-pneumatic training equipment, the range of which will be supplemented. The company has also provided a variety of video and printed information materials that will help students to complement their knowledge of the basics of pneumatics and learn the operating principles of laboratory equipment. Initially, the laboratory will be used primarily for the purposes of studies, but it is also intended to be used for scientific research purposes when more equipment will be installed.
Equipment that operates with compressed air principle is most widely used in the manufacturing of medical goods and foodstuff, since the components used are very compact, easy to maintain, clean and do not require oil to function, which may damage the product, so such equipment is safe. Pneumatic equipment is also used in mechanical engineering, woodworking, textile industry, electronics, robotics, mineral industry, construction of printing and packaging equipment and other industries.
In the Automation Laboratory, students will have to perform practical laboratory work, initially developing theoretical circuits, but after creating them in practice. By gaining basic knowledge of working with electro-pneumatic equipment, students will learn to work with slide valves, throttles, cylinders, control elements, relays and other components, thus learning to create circuit schemes for different purposes.
The experience of RTU FMETA academic staff shows that well-equipped and modern laboratories are of supreme importance in the study process – laboratories make it possible to gain an in-depth understanding of the subject-matter and increase the motivation of students.
FMETA students actively work in the field of pneumatics, with the support of academic staff designing pneumatic cars, or vehicles operating with compressed air. Already for several years students participate in international student-designed pneumatic car competitions. Various teams of RTU students have participated in the competition, with different self-made pneumatic cars. Student teams have succeeded and gained award-winning places in the competition among several dozen teams.