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An Autonomous Arduino-Based Racecar for First-Year Engineering Technology Students

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Robotics and Automation

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.153.1 - 24.153.11



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Paper Authors


Warren Rosen Drexel University (Eng.)

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Dr. Warren Rosen received his Ph.D. in physics from Temple University. Following graduation he served as assistant professor of physics at Colby and Vassar Colleges where he carried out research in optical physics, solar physics, and medical physics. During this time he was a visiting scientist at Kitt Peak National Observatory and a research scientist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Cambridge, MA. He then moved to the Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division in Warminster, PA where he established an optical communications laboratory for development and characterization of optical components, systems, and protocols for high-performance avionics data networks. Dr. Rosen is currently an assistant clinical professor at Drexel University, where he is responsible for developing and teaching courses in microprocessors, microcontrollers, FPGAs, and optics. Dr. Rosen has carried out research sponsored by the National Security Agency, National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, DARPA, the Office of Naval Research, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Missile Defense Agency. Dr. Rosen is the author or coauthor of over 80 publications and conference proceedings and the holder of six U.S. patents in computer networking and signal processing.

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Yalcin Ertekin Drexel University (Engineering Tech)

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Yalcin Ertekin received his Ph.D. degree in mechanical Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly The University of Missouri-Rolla). He is a Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) and Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE). His teaching responsibilities include Computer Numerical Control, manufacturing processes, applied quality control, mechanical design, and applied mechanics, manufacturing information management systems, introduction to technology and graphical communication as well as senior design courses. He developed two online graduate courses: rapid prototyping and product design and lean manufacturing principles for MSET program. Dr. Ertekin has over six years of industrial experience related to quality and design engineering mostly in automotive industry. He worked for Toyota Motor Corporation as a quality assurance engineer for two years and lived in Toyota City, Japan. His area of expertise is in CAD/CAM, manufacturing processes, machine design with CAE methods, rapid prototyping, CNC machining and quality control. His research interest includes sensor based condition monitoring of machining processes, machine tool accuracy characterization and enhancement, non-invasive surgical tool design and bio-materials applications. During his career, Dr. Ertekin published papers in referred journals and in conference proceedings in his area of research interest. He has also been PI for various NSF research projects including NSF-TUES and MRI programs. Dr. Ertekin is an active member in the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and currently serves as a chair of Philadelphia SME Chapter-15.

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M. Eric Carr Drexel University Orcid 16x16

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Mr. Eric Carr is a full-time Laboratory Manager and part-time adjunct instructor with Drexel University’s Engineering Technology program. Eric assists faculty members with the development and implementation of various Engineering Technology courses. A graduate of Old Dominion University’s Computer Engineering Technology program and Drexel's College of Engineering, Eric enjoys finding innovative ways to use microcontrollers and other technologies to enhance Drexel’s Engineering Technology course offerings. Eric is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Computer Engineering at Drexel, and is an author of several technical papers in the field of Engineering Technology Education.

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An Autonomous Arduino-based Racecar for First-Year Engineering Technology StudentsThis paper describes an autonomous Arduino-based racecar project for use in a first-yearengineering technology course. The project is intended to stimulate students’ interest indeveloping key skills such as computer programming and industrial design andfabrication as well as providing a hands-on introduction to several key topics in electrical,mechanical, and industrial engineering technology.The racecar comprises an Arduino Uno, an Adafruit Motor/Stepper/Servo Shield, threeUltrasonic Ranging Modules, assorted motors and gears, and a chassis that is customdesigned by the students and fabricated on a 3-D printer. The ultrasonic ranging moduleis used by the microcontroller to navigate a simple obstacle course and the groupscompete for best time.The project begins with an introduction to basic concepts in mechanical design andfabrication. The students learn to use SolidWorks mechanical design software to generatedigital models of the frame the racecar chassis that will house the electro-mechanicalcomponents. They are then given practice exercises in fabricating simple shapes using aFused Deposition Modeler that is available in the Engineering Technology MechanicalLaboratory. Next, the students are introduced to basic concepts in computer organizationand programming. They learn to write short programs in C that can be downloaded to theArduino platform to perform simple tasks such as flashing LEDs or controlling motors.Then the class is divided into teams of three or four students. One or more students ineach group are tasked with the design and fabrication of the racecar chassis and theremainder are assigned the development of the control software.For the chassis design the students must the tradeoff between light weight and the abilityto withstand static/dynamic loading due to moving parts. The students who areresponsible for software design are given the code to poll the range sensors but they mustdevelop or search the web for any additional code needed to navigate the racecar throughthe course. The project lasts four weeks, and the total cost for purchased parts is about$60 per racecar.The significance of the methodology used in this project is to combine theory andpractice to prepare the students to become better problem solvers and obtain practicalsolutions to real life/simulated problems using a project-based approach. The project alsointroduces students to the advantages rapid prototyping, in particular, the fact that objectscan be formed with any geometric complexity or intricacy, reducing the construction ofcomplex objects to a manageable, straightforward, and relatively fast process. Studentsare able to build parts that need to be assembled into more complex shapes, and thereforethey experience concepts such as design for manufacturing and assembly.Expected outcomes include the ability of the students to explain basic computerorganization, to write simple codes in C, and to design, analyze, and fabricate usefulmechanical components. Multiple forms of assessment are used to demonstrate success,including student surveys, course exams, and homework.  

Rosen, W., & Ertekin, Y., & Carr, M. E. (2014, June), An Autonomous Arduino-Based Racecar for First-Year Engineering Technology Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20044

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