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Botball Kit For Teaching Engineering Computing

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Mobile Robotics in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.261.1 - 9.261.11



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Paper Authors

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David Miller

author page

Charles Winton

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

Botball Kit for Teaching Engineering Computing David P. Miller Charles Winton

School of AME Department of CIS University of Oklahoma University of N. Florida Norman, OK 73019 Jacksonville, FL 32224

Abstract Many engineering classes can benefit from hands on use of robots. The KISS Institute Botball kit has found use in many classes at a number of universities. This paper outlines how the kit is used in a few of these different classes at a couple of different universities. This paper also introduces the Collegiate Botball Challenge, and how it can be used as a class project.

1 Introduction Introductory engineering courses are used to teach general principles while introducing the students to all of the engineering disciplines. Robotics, as a multi-disciplinary application can be an ideal subject for projects that stress the different engineering fields. A major consideration in establishing a robotics course emphasizing mobile robots is the type of hands-on laboratory experience that will be incorporated into the course of instruction. Most electrical engineering schools lack the machine shops and expertise needed to create the mechanical aspects of a robot system. Most mechanical engineering schools lack the electronics labs and expertise needed for the actuation, sensing and computational aspects required to support robotics work. The situation is even more dire for most computer science schools.

Computer science departments typically do not have the support culture for the kind of laboratories that are more typically associated with engineering programs. On the other hand, it is recognized that computer science students need courses which provide closer to real world experiences via representative hands-on exercises. This need is usually addressed in the context of software, but it also pertains to topics more closely linked to physical hardware, which certainly characterizes robotics.

What is needed is a robot prototyping system that requires a minimum of support infrastructure, but has the depth and flexibility to allow serious engineering to take place. The Botball kit was originally designed for use in high schools, and requires no tools except for a computer and an occasional application of hot glue to speed assembly. The kit is being used in over thirty colleges and universities in at least four countries. The remainder of the paper describes the kit and how it is being used in a couple of different schools in different disciplines to teach different aspects of engineering. We will also describe some of the motivations both for using this kit and for having students work on robotic projects as motivating and educational factor.

Miller, D., & Winton, C. (2004, June), Botball Kit For Teaching Engineering Computing Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13517

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