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A Class For Undergraduate Technical Literacy Using Lego Mindstorms

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Technology Literacy for Non-Engineers

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.12.1 - 12.12.12



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Paper Authors

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Lawrence Whitman Wichita State University

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James Steck Wichita State University

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David Koert Wichita State University

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Larry Paarmann Wichita State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


Much effort is underway to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. There is a growing base of infusing these necessary skills and attitudes to stimulate the pursuit of these avenues as careers. There is also much effort aimed at addressing the diminishing skills in math and many of the sciences. As technology is becoming pervasive in many US classrooms, the skills and knowledge necessary to utilize this technology is being provided to students. However, there is little effort to build a broad base of understanding and appreciation of engineering principles that lies behind much of our technology today. This paper presents a class which was developed to provide an exciting, hands-on method to explore engineering concepts using LEGO MINDSTORMS. The class was targeted toward those students who would not normally choose an engineering or technology profession. These participants learned about engineering in a practical and useful manner using LEGO Robots. This paper will present the class, the modules developed for the class and the results of the workshop held in August 2006. The desired outcome of the class is that technologically non- proficient citizens will be better prepared to function in a global, technology-intense world.

Introduction/ Motivation

“Are we providing students with the intellectual skills and background they will need to appreciate and continue learning about SME&T [Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology] throughout their lives?”1. There is a growing need to build a broad base of understanding and appreciation of engineering principles that lies behind much of our technology today. These skills need to be established in those students who would never take an engineering class. The new liberal education must include technology as a key component.

Much has been made of building business understanding, communication skills, and the ability to work in teams into engineering undergraduates. At a conference of industry leaders, one CEO stated that he wanted engineers with business knowledge. But, he also wanted business graduates to have a basic grasp of engineering principles. Van der Vink3 stated that we need our politicians and business managers to consider engineering concepts in their decision making process, “…Our long-term future depends on citizens understanding and appreciating the role of science in our society.”

Wichita, Kansas has a great need for technologically skilled workers with an understanding of the engineering process. Wichita is home to multiple aircraft companies such as Boeing, Raytheon Aircraft, Cessna, and Bombardier, in addition to non aircraft companies like The Coleman Company, Koch Industries and Vulcan Chemicals. WSU has a growing need to bridge engineering principals into the undergraduate general education program for all students. This course was the first attempt at exposing all undergraduate students to engineering concepts. A

Whitman, L., & Steck, J., & Koert, D., & Paarmann, L. (2007, June), A Class For Undergraduate Technical Literacy Using Lego Mindstorms Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1871

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