Asee peer logo

Implementing Problem-Based Learning in a Senior/Graduate Mechatronics Course

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Systems Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.708.1 - 24.708.13



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

James A. Mynderse Lawrence Technological University Orcid 16x16

author page

Jeffrey N. Shelton Purdue University, West Lafayette

Download Paper |


PBL Implementation in a Senior/Graduate Mechatronic System Implementation CourseAs part of Lawrence Technological University’s six-year process to incorporate active andcollaborative learning (ACL) and problem-based learning (PBL) in the engineering curriculum,PBL has been included in a Mechatronics implementation course. This paper details theimplementation of PBL through a half-semester design problem.The Mechatronics course under consideration serves as an entry-level graduate course forstudents enrolled in an MS Mechatronic Systems Engineering program as well as a technicalelective for undergraduate students enrolled in a BS Mechanical Engineering program.Undergraduate students are typically traditional students while the graduate students work full-time and attend one or two evening courses per semester. Thus the student population is diversein background, degree program, and external pressures.A set of structured lab assignments based on the Arduino UNO platform are used to teachpreliminary concepts. These include an introduction to microcontrollers, transistors as switches,IR sensor integration with microcontrollers, DC motor integration with microcontrollers, andfinite state machines. While necessary, these concepts are not sufficient to teach mechatronicsystem implementation. PBL is used to teach the value of integrated electro-mechanical-softwaredesign over sequential design.A real-world, humanitarian problem is developed to engage students in mechatronic design:clearing landmines in Afghanistan. Leveraging skills from the structured labs, student groupsdesign autonomous vehicles to detect simulated landmines for removal by experts. Oral progressreports are used to keep students on track, gauge progress, and facilitate interaction betweengroups.Previous iterations of this course utilized a collaborative project without other features of PBLsuch as a real-world problem or staging. Results were largely positive, but students often failedto learn the value of integrated electro-mechanical-software design approach until faced withnear failure of their projects. Following PBL modification, survey instruments are used toqualitatively assess the effectiveness of PBL in teaching integrated design. In addition, thesurvey data are used to gauge the relative effectiveness for undergraduate versus graduatestudents.

Mynderse, J. A., & Shelton, J. N. (2014, June), Implementing Problem-Based Learning in a Senior/Graduate Mechatronics Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20600

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015