Recent studies on engineering students show that engineering students retain very little in lecture-based. Hands-on courses were introduced in the United Arab Emirates University to integrate laboratory exercises with theory andprinciples. The traditional method that introduces lectures and laboratory classes separately can minimize training in the communication aspects and can lead to diminished creativity and lack-lustre presentation of theory. In contrast to this, the new courses emphasized "hands-on " student learning activities using state-of-the art equipment and sofmare, and interactive self-learning by reducing the amount of formal lectures. For the petroleum engineering program, Properties of Petroleum Fluids and Reservoir Rock Properties were selected for conversion into the new methodology. In the teaching of these courses, the faculty member assumed the role of a manager of learning. In this format, the students were lead through a series of activities that enabled them to master findamental concepts. The backbone of this process is to design hands-on laboratory activities in which students took measurements, and acquired, manipulated and interpreted data in experiments that demonstrate basic concepts. The unique feature of this methodology is the introduction of open-ended problems, creative design, and engineering discussion based on encouraging new ideas. The contents of the selected courses were structured as modules, each of which followed an interactive pattern in which the student was an active partner in the learning process. The interaction was ensured through a set of sequential events: Introductory Lecture, Prelab Presentation and Lab Preparation, Discove y Session, Discussion, and Problem Solving. Evaluation of the course achievements shows that the new methodology promotes the sense of engineering profession, encourages se&education, innovation, and enhanced communication skills. Eventhough students resisted the idea in the beginning, they became enthusiastic as they discovered that they were learning lot more than the conventional approach that separates the lecture-based class ffom the laboratory class. Students' ability to solve problems along with class participation improved drastically.
With the end of the cold war, the world has opened up to new opporhmities. This necessitates revision of engineering curricula1,2. The revision should remedy the shortcomings of the previously established curriculum. The biggest problem of educating engineering students with the knowledge of science has been the lack of integration of research and design3. U.S.A. has been trailing in preparing students who can start thinking creative from an earlier age2.
The inefficiency of lectures in a classroom is becoming increasingly evident4S. With the advent of internet, students have access to information that cannot be delivered in a classroom lecture, The second major problem with lecture-based teaching is the lack of hand-on experience by students6. While some of the universities have implemented the co-op system, in which students are trained by the industry in between academic semesters, students have not been able to see the link between the industry and the academia due to consistent lack of interaction between the two7, It appears that this observation of the lack of creativity and hands-on experience is not new3.