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A Multidisciplinary Laboratory Course: Robotic Design And Programming With Mindstorms

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

LabVIEW and Mindstorms Based Experiments

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.66.1 - 13.66.10



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Paper Authors


Nebojsa Jaksic Colorado State University-Pueblo Orcid 16x16

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Nebojsa I. Jaksic received the Dipl. Ing. degree in electrical engineering from Belgrade University in 1984, the M.S. in electrical engineering, M.S. in industrial engineering, and Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the Ohio State University in 1988, 1992, and 2000, respectively.

From 1992 to 2000 he was with DeVry University in Columbus, OH. In 2000, he joined Colorado State University-Pueblo, where he is currently an Associate Professor and the mechatronics program director. Dr. Jaksic's interests include mechatronics and nanotechnology education and research. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE, SME, and MRS.

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Dawn Spencer Colorado State University-Pueblo

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Dawn E. Spencer received B.S. and M.S. degrees in computer science from The Ohio State University in 1990 and 1992 respectively.
After working as an independent contractor for many years for companies ranging in size from family businesses to IBM, Dawn accepted a position at Colorado State University – Pueblo in 2000, where she is currently an Assistant Professor in the CIS department of the Hasan School of Business. She is a member of ISSA and ASEE.

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

A Multidisciplinary Laboratory Course: Robotic Design and Programming with Mindstorms


This work describes an introductory mechatronics/computer information systems laboratory course, Robotics with LEGO Mindstorms NXT, offered in Fall 2007. The course is designed to employ discovery-based learning in a multidisciplinary environment using robots. A current, high-profile, engineering problem, DARPA Urban Challenge, was selected to motivate students. The challenge was modified to fit the LEGO Mindstorms robotic environment available for the course. A configurable route consisting of modular route segments was developed. Our assessment metrics show exceeding of the learning objectives set for the course and high student satisfaction.


To facilitate discovery-based learning, learning in a multidisciplinary environment, and promote further development of graphical programming skills, a Robotics with LEGO Mindstorms NXT course was developed and implemented. This is a two-hour laboratory, one semester, upper division course offered within two programs at the Colorado State University - Pueblo: the Bachelor of Science in Engineering with specialization in Mechatronics program and the Computer Information Systems program.

This course was inspired by an actual robotics competition, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) Urban Challenge, a 2007, $2,000,000 prize autonomous vehicle challenge to complete 60 miles in traffic in less than six hours. The challenge took place on November 3rd at Southern California Logistics Airport.

Previous Work and Justification

The major function of the Robotics with LEGO Mindstorms NXT course is to promote discovery-based active learning and knowledge systematization. Robot building is a powerful student motivational tool1. Mimicking an actual multimillion-dollar robotic prize competition2 further enhances student motivation. A set of new tools like LEGO Mindstorms Education Base Set with NXT technology (became available in August 2006) and the National Instruments LabVIEW Toolkit for LEGO Mindstorms NXT (became available for downloads in mid- December 2006) are implemented in this novel engineering design course.

The Robotics with LEGO Mindstorms NXT course is a part of the pedagogical system implemented in our Mechatronics curriculum. This pedagogical system is based on McCarthy’s3 version of the Kolb4 learning cycle and was motivated in part by work presented by Harb et al5. New concepts can be learned by following a pattern called the learning cycle exemplified by the questions why, what, how, and what if. Active discovery-based learning is considered an important part of this learning cycle, especially in engineering6. Bruner7 defines discovery

Jaksic, N., & Spencer, D. (2008, June), A Multidisciplinary Laboratory Course: Robotic Design And Programming With Mindstorms Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4358

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