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Conceptual Framework for Integrating a Wireless Sensor and Control Network into a Robotics Course for Senior Students of Mechanical Engineering Technology

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

COED: Mechanical Engineering-related Topics

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30215

Download Count

378

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Paper Authors

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Zhou Zhang New York City College of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4599-4339

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Assistant Professor, Ph.D.
Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology, CUNY New York City College of Technology, 186 Jay St, Brooklyn, NY 11201.
Email: ZhZhang@citytech.cuny.edu

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Andy S. Zhang New York City College of Technology

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Dr. Andy S. Zhang received his Ph.D. from the City University of New York in 1995. He is currently the program director of a mechatronics project in the New York City College of Technology/CUNY. For the past 15 years, Dr. Zhang has been working on bringing mechatronics technology to the undergraduate engineering technology curricula and on helping high school students to learn mechatronics through FIRST Robotic Competition events.

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Mingshao Zhang Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-6331-4010

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Mingshao Zhang is currently an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering Department, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Before joining SIUE, he received Ph.D. and master degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and bachelor's degrees from University of Science and Technology of China.

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Sven K. Esche Stevens Institute of Technology

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Sven Esche is a tenured Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. He received a Diploma in Applied Mechanics in 1989 from Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany, and was awarded M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Ohio State University in 1994 and 1997, respectively. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses related to mechanisms and machine dynamics, integrated product development, solid mechanics and plasticity theory, structural design and analysis, engineering analysis and finite element methods and has interests in remote laboratories, project-based learning and student learning assessment. His research is in the areas of remote sensing and control with applications to remote experimentation as well as modeling of microstructure changes in metal forming processes. He publishes regularly in peer-reviewed conference proceedings and scientific journals. At the 2006 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago, USA, he received the Best Paper Award for his article ‘A Virtual Laboratory on Fluid Mechanics’.

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Abstract

Modern robotics is a field that integrates mechanical, electrical, computer and information systems. Therefore, students with knowledge of and practical experience in modern robotics will be more confident and competitive in tomorrow’s information society. However, students of Engineering Technology, especially Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET), are facing two dilemmas when taking robotics courses because technology programs mainly focus on hands-on skills and there are fewer fundamental robotics-related courses in the MET curriculum than in electrical engineering technology. First, one of the educational goals in MET is to cultivate future technologists rather than researchers. Therefore, the stronger emphasis of MET curricula on applications compared with mechanical engineering curricula impairs the students’ deeper understanding of the advanced concepts and theories required by modern robotics. Second, the limited number of robotics class hours constrain the extended application and practice of the knowledge related to advanced robotics. Therefore, devising an efficient educational approach for the robotics class of the MET program is desirable. In order to find an appropriate method for overcoming the above-mentioned problems, an educational framework based on using a wireless sensor and control network was devised and employed in the senior-level robotics course “Sensor and Actuator Applications in Robotics”. This framework has two advantages over the former teaching methodology. First, it is low cost and used to facilitate conceptual education. It was implemented using popular and affordable mechatronics devices (Arduino development kit, sensors, wireless communication modules, actuators, etc.). The goal of the proposed educational framework is to eliminate the need for including advanced algorithms and optimization (data processing, noisy control, robust optimization, etc.). Instead, with this framework, the students are enabled to familiarize themselves with the principal concepts of robotics, practice the application of hardware and software, create their own innovative projects and prepare themselves for their entry into the job market, thus supporting the central educational goal of cultivating technologists in MET. Second, the devised ready-to-use framework avoids exposing the students to complicated algorithms and appropriately balances the students’ time between theory and practice, thus letting them focus more on the applications of robotics. Therefore, both the students and instructors can take advantage of the limited number of class hours to develop sophisticated projects. The first step in the development of this educational approach was to conduct an assessment of the affected students. For that purpose, a student survey was administered in the course. This survey was designed to determine what the students wanted to get out of this course and to assess their abilities both in handling software and hardware. Based on the survey results and the assessment of the students’ abilities, the course was then redesigned. Subsequently, the students were instructed to familiarize themselves with basic sensors and actuators, the Arduino development kit and c-based programming with Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE). After the students had mastered the usage of the hardware and software, the framework was implemented into the course. Over the course of the semester, a series of homework and projects were assigned. Through these assignments, the students were able to build practical devices within the framework, including remotely controlled vehicles, a miniature smart building, a mobile controller, etc. In addition, the framework enhanced the students’ understanding of the fundamental concepts, and the practical applications inspired the students’ interest in this course, which also improved their performance

Zhang, Z., & Zhang, A. S., & Zhang, M., & Esche, S. K. (2018, June), Conceptual Framework for Integrating a Wireless Sensor and Control Network into a Robotics Course for Senior Students of Mechanical Engineering Technology Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30215

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