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Development And Implementation Of A Robot Based Freshman Engineering Course

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.447.1 - 10.447.16



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Paper Authors

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Tia Sharpe

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Robert Maher

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James Peterson

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James Becker

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Bradford Towle

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

Development and Implementation of a Robot-based Freshman Engineering Course

Robert C. Maher, James Becker, Tia Sharpe, James Peterson, and Bradford A. Towle Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Montana State University Bozeman, MT 59717-3780 USA

Abstract We describe the background and rationale for a new freshman course incorporating construction and testing of a small mobile robot. The custom robot kit is assembled in stages as the novice students learn basic electrical principles, the terminal characteristics of circuit components, and the basic practical skills necessary to build and test a printed circuit board. In this paper we explain the risks and difficulties overcome during the course development, the features and capabilities of the custom robot kits, and the assessment results for our first group of 90 students during the Fall 2004 semester. This effort is supported by an Educational Enhancement Award from the Montana Space Grant Consortium.

Introduction University engineering programs typically provide at least one course at the freshman level to introduce new students to the field of engineering. These introductory courses are intended to teach some basic engineering principles, to stimulate creative thought and observation, and to retain students who might otherwise become discouraged while taking the traditional physics, calculus, and chemistry prerequisites.1,2,3

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Montana State University (MSU) has developed and implemented a new laboratory experience in EE 101, our required freshman-level introductory course, as part of an ongoing course and curriculum evaluation process. Students in EE 101 now work on a custom autonomous robot kit, assembling the electronics and chassis components step-by-step with soldering irons and hand tools, while gaining an understanding of basic laboratory instruments, measurement procedures, and circuit concepts. The students learn to work both independently and with a partner to complete the assembly, measurement, and documentation steps via a set of newly developed instructional guides and laboratory experiments.

The remaining sections of this paper are organized as follows. First, a brief description of the motivation and rationale for the new robot-based course is given, including some information on the prior EE 101 course. Next, we describe the objectives and assessment plans for the new course, followed by the implementation details and laboratory outlines. Finally, we discuss our

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Sharpe, T., & Maher, R., & Peterson, J., & Becker, J., & Towle, B. (2005, June), Development And Implementation Of A Robot Based Freshman Engineering Course Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15301

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