New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
June 29, 2016
The content and means of delivery of many electronic and computer engineering courses has evolved radically over the past decade due to the rise in the availability of affordable, open-source programmable microcontrollers and accessible wireless communication devices. Many engineering modules have been extended to more closely integrate the underlying technologies and systems with modern engineering practice. One of the more exciting additions to the range of inexpensive robotic technologies is unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones. Drones have a wide range of real-world applications and the full potential of these devices has yet to be explored by either industry or educators.
Drones have an enormous capacity to engage students and facilitate classroom learning. Drones offer a challenging platform for existing engineering design modules where students face challenges in electronics, control, programming and project management.
However, one of the challenges facing educators is how to integrate drones within their courses in a meaningful way; so that UAVs are not viewed as mere toys, but as devices that have a credible role to play in the solution of real world problems. In this paper we describe how UAVs have been included in a multidisciplinary project where students work on real world problems that cut across a broad range of engineering disciplines. The project draws on the capabilities of UAVs: the ability to sense objects in their surroundings, to plot and maintain an accurate course, to make on-the-fly adjustments based on environmental data, to use computer vision to interpret data gathered by the on-board camera etc.
As a proof-of-concept we focus on a practical, contemporary Engineering task – the use of UAVs to monitor the structural health of next generation wind turbines. We describe the high level task, decompose it into multiple complementary facets, relate those to specific Engineering disciplines and associated educational concepts at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and then present specific learning and developmental opportunities and describe and present the student engagement and achievements.
McGoldrick, C., & Shivaram, S., & Huggard, M. (2016, June), Experiences of Integrating UAVs into the Curriculum through Multidisciplinary Engineering Projects Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26818
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