New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Freshman engineering students present a variety of challenges. These include differences in preparation and motivation. When these students are combined in a required class it can lead to frustration on the part of instructor and learner. At [[University]] there is a first semester course entitled EGR 106 - Engineering Design I. Topics in this course include a multidiscplinary introduction to basic electronics, programming Arduino hardware in C, computer aided design (CAD), computer numerical control (CNC), and basic manufacturing knowledge. Throughout the course the material is taught in interwoven threads that are integrated with a final course project, a robot. In previous semesters the project was a line following robot that the students design, built, debugged, and the competed against their classmates. This provided a clean measurement of adequate. Students with better robot designs, and some luck, were able to make it to the final rounds of the competition.
By definition a competition has a winner and many ‘non-winners’. While this recognizes excellence it can demoralize otherwise good students. A solution was developed to encourage student excellence while allowing more challenged students to participate in a meaningful way. The competition was divided into multiple events with the requirement that a team must participate successfully in at least one event to receive a passing grade in the project. Winning an event would lead to better grades and limited bragging rights. Student teams that won or placed well in multiple events were ranked as overall winners. This tiered structure allowed teams with limitations to perform well, but encouraged the high achieving teams to stretch.
The paper will outline the various events in our informally named ‘Robot Olympiad’. The approaches of the teams will be discussed and how these resulted in a recognized and genuine successes. In addition the method eliminated the need for hollow praise for middling teams, and made poor results stand out.
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