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A Micro Controller Based Robotics Course For Me Students

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

To Design and Conduct Experiments

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.63.1 - 7.63.7



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Paper Authors

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Wayne Walter

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Session 1566

A Micro-Controller Based Robotics Course for ME Students

Wayne Walter, PhD, P.E. Gleason Professor of Mechanical Engineering Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 14623


For many years the emphasis of our robotics course has been on projects where students design, build, and test tooling to accompany an industrial robot in a workcell. At the end of a ten-week quarter, students were expected to demonstrate a working prototype that integrates sensors, actuators, and feeders together with software to accomplish a task. Recently, the emphasis in our course has shifted to the use of BASIC Stamp micro-controllers to control mobile robots for a variety of project applications including underwater data collection, buried mine detection, wildfire detection, and others. Some chassis are kit-built and some are student-built, but all have integrated sensors and actuators with control software. This paper discusses the transition to our new course curriculum, and how it is being received by mechanical engineering students.

Top Level Course Objectives and Structure

The top level objectives of the robotics course in the RIT Mechanical Engineering Program are to have students develop hands-on skills with robots, teaming skills where teams work in an independent mode on a rather complex project with little direct supervision, project management skills to complete a project on schedule, and oral and written communication skills. The course is interdisciplinary in nature involving mechanical design and fabrication, electronics and circuits, programming, and systems engineering. It is really an opportunity for students to apply many of the previous courses in our program.

This is a project-based course in which students spend the majority of their time solving an open- ended problem that results in the design, build, and test of a working prototype. Each student must keep a logbook of their day-to day activities on their project, which is graded weekly for progress. Deliverables include a demonstration to the faculty member and lab TA of a working prototype and a final written and oral report that includes a videotape of their working system. Lectures via PowerPointÔ slides on robotics fundamentals build up their robot literacy. Two exams are given throughout the quarter to test comprehension of the material. Weekly lab exercises develop their hands-on skills in preparation for the project. Solutions to the weekly lab exercises are demonstrated to the lab TA. Students sign up for lab time on the equipment and must come to the lab with a preliminary software program, flow chart, and wiring diagram.

Final grades are computed as follows: 20% for the two exams, 30% for the weekly lab exercises, 10% for the weekly project progress in logbooks, and 40% for the project. Project grades are highly dependent on the quality and robustness of the solution and whether the work meets, consistently exceeds, or fails to meet expectations.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ã 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Walter, W. (2002, June), A Micro Controller Based Robotics Course For Me Students Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10607

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