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A Student Run Help Desk To Facilitate A Robotics Based Course Sequence

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Collection

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Computers in Education Poster Session

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

15

Page Numbers

15.95.1 - 15.95.15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/16622

Download Count

26

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Paper Authors

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John Easley Louisiana Tech University

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John Easley is a Lecturer in Industrial Engineering at Louisiana Tech University.

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David Hall Louisiana Tech University

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David Hall is an Associate Professor and the Program Chair for Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University.

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Nicholas Beard Louisiana Tech University

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Nicholas Beard is an undergraduate student in Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University.

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Glenn Fardsalehi Louisiana Tech University

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Glenn Fardsalehi is an undergraduate student in Electrical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University.

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Nathan Wallace Louisiana Tech University

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Nathan Wallace is an undergraduate student in Nanosystems Engineering at Louisiana Tech University.

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Michael Swanbom Louisiana Tech University

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Michael Swanbom is a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University.

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

A Student-Run Help Desk to Facilitate a Robotics-Based Course Sequence

Abstract Many engineering programs have implemented project-based, first-year experiences to foster the development of skills and attitudes that improve student retention and better prepare students for an increasingly dynamic and global workplace. Project-focused approaches increase the workload of already busy faculty members and can be difficult to sustain, particularly when budgets are tight. Added responsibilities such as ordering and managing supplies, resolving technical issues faced by students, and maintaining tools and machinery rob faculty of time that could be better spent focusing on the learning experience. Louisiana Tech University has addressed this issue by implementing a project-focused curriculum that we call Living with the Lab. This curriculum decreases a portion of the faculty workload by transferring the ownership and maintenance of laboratory platforms and tools from the university to the students. Each student purchases a robotics kit with a programmable controller, sensors, servos, and software. In addition, students are required to purchase a kit that includes a majority of the tools necessary to complete the required projects in the new curriculum. The robotics kit and toolkit provide the foundation for a laboratory and design platform that is completely mobile and accessible at all times. Despite Louisiana Tech’s transition to a student-owned laboratory and design platform, a significant portion of the faculty workload still includes tasks necessary to appropriately facilitate our project-based approach. To increase the sustainability of the curriculum, our faculty team has implemented a student-run help desk that is responsible for many of the tasks required to sustain the curriculum. By analyzing help desk data collected throughout the year, we measure and identify the types of activities performed by the student-run help desk as well as the utilization of it by Louisiana Tech’s first-year engineering students. This paper describes our first-year approach, the management of project supplies and equipment, the help desk, and the assessment data collected throughout the year. Introduction

In 1998 the College of Engineering and Science at Louisiana Tech University implemented an integrated engineering curriculum based on the educational practices of the early NSF coalitions1. The University provided seed money in 2002 to pilot a robotics-centered, project focused version of the integrated curriculum for a group of 21 students. After seeing positive results, the new curriculum was expanded to 40 students during the 2003-2004 academic year. The program was adopted as the honors engineering curriculum from 2004 to 2007. The new freshman curriculum became known as Living with the Lab (LWTL)2, and funding from the National Science Foundation provided the opportunity to extend the program to more than 400 students in fall of 2008.

Louisiana Tech operates on a quarter system, thereby allowing three general engineering courses to be offered per year. The three courses (ENGR 120, 121, and 122) are hybrid lecture/laboratory classes that meet for 110 minutes, two times per week. Table 1 shows these

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