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A Fire Fighting Robot And Its Impact On Educational Outcomes

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.10.1 - 3.10.7



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Paper Authors

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G.J. Freeman

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A.M. Mankowski

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Daniel J. Pack

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

Session 3520

A Fire-Fighting Robot and Its Impact on Educational Outcomes

D.J. Pack, A.M. Mankowski, and G.J. Freeman

Department of Electrical Engineering United States Air Force Academy Colorado Springs, CO 80840-6236


In this paper we discuss the educational experiences gained through the design, construction, and competition of a fire-fighting robot. We focus on two significant educational outcomes: 1) teamwork skills and 2) the ability to frame, define, and resolve difficult, real-world problems. We also discuss the practical experience gained through building a robot with high performance, reliability, speed, and accuracy specifications. The four sub-modules of the robot design – namely motion control, sensors, independent power supply development, and a fire-extinguishing mechanism – each stress the two significant educational outcomes. The desire to win the competition is a constant source of motivation and tests the limits of a student’s patience, education, and teamwork skills. This desire to win also encourages the students to reach for the highest standards of performance, reliability, speed and accuracy. Each design and construction phase taught the students how to frame, define, and then resolve problems encountered. We show how each stage of the fire-fighting robot design, construction, and competition contributes toward improving the desired educational outcomes.


Recently, the criteria to evaluate a university engineering program have changed such that the primary emphasis will be on how well the critical educational outcomes for the individual institution are met[1, 2]. To this end, the United States Air Force Academy has designated seven desired educational outcomes: producing officers with 1. breadth of integrated, fundamental knowledge; 2. ability to frame and resolve ill-defined problems; 3. effective communication skills; 4. skills as an independent learner; 5. teamwork skills; 6. intellectual curiosity; and 7. military professionalism[3]. In this paper, we illustrate the role of a fire-fighting robot project in an engineering curriculum and its contribution to these educational outcomes. Our primary focus in this paper is on outcomes number two and five with some discussion of how the experience also contributes to the other educational outcomes.

The goal of the fire-fighting robot project is to create a wheeled robot with capabilities to navigate through a specially designed maze, detect a candle flame (simulating a fire), extinguish the flame, and return to a designated location within the maze. To obtain this goal, four different “low level” modules must be successfully developed: a motion control module, a sensor module, a fire-extinguishing module, and a power supply module. Once the four separate modules are created, they must then be integrated into an overall control module for the fire-fighting robot.

Freeman, G., & Mankowski, A., & Pack, D. J. (1998, June), A Fire Fighting Robot And Its Impact On Educational Outcomes Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7128

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