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Discovery Based Learning In The Engineering Classroom Using Underwater Robotics

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

FPD4 -- Real-World Case Studies & Projects

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.488.1 - 11.488.13



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Paper Authors


Liesl Hotaling Stevens Institute of Technology

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Liesl Hotaling is Assistant Director of the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE), Stevens Institute of Technology. She received a B.S. in Marine Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University, a M.A.T. in Science Teaching from Monmouth University and a M.S. in Maritime Systems from Stevens.

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Richard Sheryll Center for Maritime Systems, Stevens Institute of Technology

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Richard Sheryll is a Research Associate and Ph. D. candidate in Ocean Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. He received a B.S. in Oceanography and an A.S. in Electrical Engineering from State University of New York. He is an experienced design engineer specializing in the development of deep-ocean sampling systems.

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Rustam Stolkin Center for Maritime Systems, Stevens Institute of Technology

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Rustam Stolkin is a Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Maritime Systems, Stevens Institute of Technology. He received a MEng degree in Engineering from Oxford University and a PhD in Robot Vision from London University. His research interests include robotics, computer vision, machine intelligence and sensor systems.

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

Discovery based learning in the engineering classroom using underwater robotics


Underwater robotics projects offer an excellent medium for discovery based engineering and science learning. The challenge of building underwater robotic vehicles and manipulators engages and stimulates students while encompassing a very broad spectrum of engineering disciplines and scientific concepts.

This paper describes the successful design and implementation of student projects, building wire guided remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) with motorized grabbers. This work is part of an ongoing effort to incorporate innovative, hands on projects into our freshman engineering curriculum. These projects help expose students to practical design issues in the freshman year, foster creative problem solving skills and may aid student retention on engineering programs. These projects have also been successfully piloted in pre-college programs, aimed at generating interest in engineering careers among high school students.

We describe ongoing work to extend these projects to include computer control and sensory feedback, allowing students to develop autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). Further, we outline ongoing work to assess the effectiveness of these modules.

1 Introduction

This paper describes an ongoing effort, at Stevens Institute of Technology, to develop a set of educational modules, which will teach fundamental engineering principles through the design, construction, programming and testing of underwater robotic vehicles using simple materials. These modules emphasize discovery based learning, creative problem solving, collaborative team work and provide hands on exposure to the iterative engineering design process.

This paper provides an overview of the proposed educational module, presents the results of a pilot implementation project during which students successfully constructed remotely operated underwater vehicles and discusses methodologies by which the effectiveness of such modules might be assessed.

1.1 Why build underwater robotic vehicles?

When students design, build and program underwater robotic vehicles, they are learning engineering fundamentals which span virtually every engineering discipline. Additionally, students are motivated by an exciting and stimulating design scenario.

The use of projects based on small robotic vehicles is now widespread in engineering curricula, however these are predominantly wheeled, terrestrial vehicles. Such projects often reduce to little more than exercises in applied programming, losing valuable opportunities to present substantial mechanical challenges or to incorporate real interdisciplinary engineering design. In contrast, the

Hotaling, L., & Sheryll, R., & Stolkin, R. (2006, June), Discovery Based Learning In The Engineering Classroom Using Underwater Robotics Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--47

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