June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.428.1 - 14.428.12
Designing an Undergraduate Robotics Engineering Curriculum: Unified Robotics I and II
Robotics Engineering (RBE) is a new undergraduate degree program at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). As of the fall semester of 2008, the program is the fourth largest discipline at the institution in terms of freshman enrollment. At the core of the curriculum are four signature courses called Unified Robotics I-IV. The goal of these courses is to introduce students to the multidisciplinary theory and practice of robotics engineering, integrating the fields of computer science, electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering. The sophomore level courses, RBE 2001 and RBE 2002, introduce students to the foundational concepts of robotics such as kinematics, pneumatics, circuits, electric motors, sensors, signal processing and embedded system programming. The junior level courses, RBE 3001 and RBE 3002, build on this foundation to ensure that students understand the analysis of selected components and learn system-level design and development of a robotic system including embedded design.
This paper discusses the development of a two-course sequence in undergraduate robotics education, Unified Robotics I and II, in detail. Learning outcomes and sample schedules illustrating our approach to designing a new robotics engineering program at the undergraduate level are presented. The paper exemplifies the robotics systems designed by the students within the scope of laboratory experiences and course projects. Finally, we discuss lessons learned, future directions, and student feedback. The initial observations and results are in favor of promoting robotics engineering as a new undergraduate engineering program.
It is well-known that robotics has become a passion among students of all ages1,2. In response to this growing interest, institutions of higher education have been introducing robotics courses into their existing curricula3-5. Interdisciplinary nature of the field of robotics makes it suitable for incorporating robotics focused engineering courses into engineering programs in one form or another with electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science programs being perhaps the most common of these programs. Indeed, it is very common to find robotics related modules and projects in undergraduate courses on embedded systems, analog electronics, dynamics, algorithms, as well as introduction to engineering. Moreover, robotics projects are frequently encountered in capstone design courses.
Robotics as an engineering discipline requires a strong background in mathematics and sciences as well as in engineering design and programming5,10. For this reason, robotics courses have historically been offered at the graduate level and have mostly focused on the study of robot manipulators. Over the past several years, however, robotics has evolved to become a rather diverse field covering a wide spectrum of topics and educational endeavors ranging from assistive technologies to biologically inspired systems, from industrial robotics to humanoids
Ciaraldi, M., & Cobb, E., & Looft, F., & Norton, R., & Padir, T. (2009, June), Designing An Undergraduate Robotics Engineering Curriculum: Unified Robotics I And Ii Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5201
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