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Assessing Multidisciplinary Design in a Robotics Engineering 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

Design Across Disciplines

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.215.1 - 25.215.14



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Paper Authors


Michael A. Gennert Worcester Polytechnic Institute Orcid 16x16

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Michael A. Gennert is Director of the Robotics Engineering Program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he is professor of computer science and professor of electrical and computer engineering. He has worked at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, Mass., the University of California/Riverside, General Electric Ordnance Systems, Pittsfield, Mass., and PAR Technology Corporation, New Hartford, N.Y. He received the B.S. in computer science, B.S. in electrical engineering, and M.S. in electrical engineering in 1980, and the D.Sc. in electrical engineering in 1987 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gennert is interested in computer vision, image processing, scientific databases, and programming languages, with ongoing projects in biomedical image processing, robotics, and stereo and motion vision. He is author or co-author of more than 100 papers. He is a member of Sigma Xi, NDIA Robotics Division, and the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council Robotics Cluster, and a Senior Member of IEEE and ACM.

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Taskin Padir Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Taskin Padir is an Assistant Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is also a faculty member in the Robotics Engineering program. He advised capstone projects that have been sponsored by NASA, Mathworks, Solidworks, National Instruments, Intel, NVidia, Maxon Motors, Tesla Motors, and Igus. Padir received the Inaugural Rho Beta Epsilon Award for Excellence in Robotics Education in 2010 and Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education in 2011 for his contributions to WPI's unique undergraduate program in robotics engineering.

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Assessing Multidisciplinary Design in a Robotics Engineering CurriculumAbstractIn the fall of 2007, XYZ Institute (XYZI) became the first university in the nation to offer abachelor's degree program in the emerging field of robotics engineering (RBE). The program hasgrown rapidly to become one of the largest majors at XYZI. The program was accredited in 2011by ABET’s Engineering Accreditation Commission under the General Engineering criteria.At the core of the curriculum are four signature courses called Unified Robotics I-IV. The goal ofthese courses is to introduce students to the multidisciplinary theory and practice of roboticsengineering, integrating the fields of computer science, electrical engineering and mechanicalengineering. The sophomore level courses, RBE 2001 and RBE 2002, introduce students to thefoundational concepts of robotics such as kinematics, pneumatics, circuits, electric motors,sensors, signal processing and embedded system programming. The junior level courses, RBE3001 and RBE 3002, build on this foundation to ensure that students understand the analysis ofselected components and learn system-level design and development of a robotic system. Inaddition to taking courses, XYZI requires all students to complete a senior-level project in theirmajor field of study called Major Qualifying Project (MQP). For RBE students, this requires acapstone design experience in Robotics Engineering. Students typically work in teams of two tofour students, although single-person projects and larger teams are also possible. A facultymember in the major advises the work. Students are expected to take relevant coursework beforethe project begins. The project work itself typically starts with a formal project proposal,including literature review, clearly defined approach, and schedule with milestones. Projectsconclude with a report and presentation to faculty and students. Within this structure, thecapstone senior design experience serves as the binding agent for the theory and practice learnedin the core courses taught in the robotics engineering curriculum.This paper discusses the capstone design experience within a new degree program in roboticsengineering in detail while attempting to address the problem of teaching multidisciplinarydesign to senior engineering students working on projects that aims to solve real-world problems.Learning outcomes specifically designed for the senior-design and sample projects completed byrobotics engineering students illustrating our approach to designing this new roboticsengineering program at the undergraduate level are presented.Based on the project learning outcomes, the RBE program faculty uses a variety of methods ofmeasurement to collect data on the capstone design experience. A formal review of the seniorcapstone design experience within the multidisciplinary robotics engineering program is one ofthe instruments used to assess this component of the RBE program. This paper presents thefindings of this first review intended to assess the recently completed MQPs and determinewhether they meet the educational goals of the program. The review involved reading all of theproject reports and a content analysis performed on MQP reports that are publicly available.During the review, a set of summary sheets were completed by the review committee and facultyadvisors for each project. The paper will also provide the detailed statistical data upon which thisreview was based on, assessment methodology followed and a discussion on the findings.

Gennert, M. A., & Padir, T. (2012, June), Assessing Multidisciplinary Design in a Robotics Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20975

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