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A Two-semester Project-based Robotics Curriculum

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Capstone Design and Innovations in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.117.1 - 25.117.17

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Paper Authors


Muhittin Yilmaz Texas A&M University, Kingsville

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Muhittin Yilmaz received the B.S. degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey, and the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University, University Park. He has been an Assistant Professor with the lectrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, Texas A&M University, Kingsville (TAMUK), since 2007. His research interests include robust and convex system optimization, model identification and validation, robotics, computer architecture, electric drives, and power electronics. He also focuses on engineering education research and engineering outreach camps. Yilmaz is a member of the Eta Kappa Nu Electrical Engineering Honor Society, as well as IEEE and ASEE.

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Selahattin Ozcelik Texas A&M University, Kingsville


Nuri Yilmazer Texas A&M University, Kingsville

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Nuri Yilmazer received a B.S. degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Cukurova University, Adana, Turkey in 1996, and M.S. and PhD degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Florida and Syracuse University in 2000 and 2006, respectively. He worked as a Post
Doctoral Research Associate in Computational Electromagnetics Laboratory at Syracuse University from 2006 to 2007. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at Texas A&M University, Kingsville, Texas. His current research interests include adaptive array processing, signal processing, and smart antennas.

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Reza Nekovei Texas A&M University, Kingsville

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Reza Nekovei is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Texas A&M University, Kingsville. He has many years of experience in developing graduate and undergraduate programs. Nekovei is currently co-PI for two NSF projects related to teaching by design research and development, one in nanotechnology (NSF-NUE), and another in robotics (NSF-CCLI). He was a senior Fulbright grantee at Bucharest Polytechnic University during 2008-09 academic year, where he performed collaborative research in computationally complex circuits and studied “teaching by design” methodology. Nekovei was the recipient of university distinguished teaching award in 2008. He is a member of IEEE and Etta Kappa Nu honor society.

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A TWO-SEMESTER PROJECT-BASED ROBOTICS CURRICULUMRecent technological advances and societal needs have yielded considerable developments in thefield of robotics. Since the first fixed robotic manipulator at a General Motors plant in 1961, therobotics field has evolved to combine machines interacting with humans and environments indifferent settings such as autonomous cars, vacuum cleaners or humanoids. Based on the roboticsfield estimated growth rate of 14%, academic institutions have offered comprehensiveundergraduate as well as graduate programs and a number of robotics competitions such asBotBall, First Robotics, DARPA Urban Challenge and NASA Underwater Robotics Challenge toincrease the robotics program enrollment. However, a stand-alone robotics program is aformidable challenge for many schools with limited faculty, space, and funding sources, due tothe inherently interdisciplinary nature of robotics field coverage and laboratory hands-oninstrumentation requirements. Thus, a viable alternative robotics program, sponsored by NationalScience Foundation (NSF-__), was developed by Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME)Departments and was offered at Texas -__), a minority serving institution, with comprehensiveevaluations about the program effectiveness.The two-course, laboratory-based and project-driven robotics program was first implementedduring the 2010-2011 academic year. The curriculum exposed robotics to senior-levelundergraduate students by tracking the IEEE Region-5 annual design competition and enhancedthe student educational learning experience by offering creative thinking, teamwork, timemanagement, communication, as well as system design challenges, by establishing a roboticsclub and by implementing a high school mentorship program. Two elective courses, Robotics-Iand Robotics-II, were developed and lecture presentations were supported with laboratorycomponents. The Robotics-I students were asked to take Robotics-II. The diverse teams of 3-5students were formed and each team performance was assessed via weekly reports and the teamleader presentations. Robotics-I, offered during the Fall-2010 semester as a pre-requisite forRobotics-II, was covered by three faculty members to introduce fundamental robotics conceptssuch as locomotion, kinematics, electrical actuators, sensors, and associated microcontrollerimplementations; and included 22 undergraduate students, mostly Hispanics, from EMEdepartments. During the Robotics-I course, the student teams were asked to develop a projectdesign, timeline, and required component list for the robot assembly based on the 2011 IEEERegion-5 competition guidelines and objectives, to formally establish a robotics club at ___, andto provide mentorship to local middle/high school students who participated in the local BESTrobotics competition. A laboratory facility with a number of tools and equipments was providedto the students for robot design, construction, implementation and evaluation. Robotics-II,offered during the Spring-2011 semester, was also covered by three faculty members to presentadvanced sensors, communication systems, localization techniques, software development, androbotic trajectory planning in the laboratory environment. The Robotics-I students attendedRobotics-II and the best robot design team participated in the Region-5 competition.The robotics program external evaluation has illustrated the effectiveness of the developedcurriculum. 12 out of 21 Robotics-II students developed career interests in robotics field. Therobotics club outreach day also proved to be effective since 27 students out of 48 becameinterested in taking a robotics class at the host institution. In addition, the middle/high schoolmentoring activity also added to the student understanding of robotics due to 11 out of 21 studentrankings of “A great deal” or “A lot” in Robotics-I survey.

Yilmaz, M., & Ozcelik, S., & Yilmazer, N., & Nekovei, R. (2012, June), A Two-semester Project-based Robotics Curriculum Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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