The use of virtual immersive laboratories is an appealing and synergistic possibility for education in science, technology and engineering, complementary to experimental activities performed in laboratory or exercises delivered in traditional rooms.
A new educational project, called Eye4edu, proposed different exercises on a virtual immersive Crude Distillation Unit (VCDU), with the aim to apply an active scenario for the learning of the structure of the single unit operations, the whole plant and the control and intervention operating procedures. The project was proposed to the bachelor and master students for the degree in Industrial Chemistry in the Milan University in the years 2019 and 2020. VCDU is based on the combination of the action of “Aveva XR for Training”, formerly Eyesim, and Dynsim software, from Aveva Company, for the physical representation and the dynamic chemical behaviour of the plant.
Several exercises on the plant were proposed to the students both for practical and management operations in the plant. The students were required to work on the basis of the information available in the technical documents, as PFD and P&ID. The project was proposed both in presence and as distance learning, respectively before and during the health emergency due to SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The description of the virtual laboratory and an analysis of its use and educational impact in face-to-face and remote delivery is reported in this paper.