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Increasing Accessibility To A First Year Engineering Course In Mobile Autonomous Robotics

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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

Mobile Robotics in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.749.1 - 10.749.16



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Paper Authors

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Duane Bolick

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Richard Drushel

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John Gallagher

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

Increasing Accessibility to a First-Year Engineering Course in Mobile Autonomous Robotics

John C. Gallagher 1,2, Richard F. Drushel 3, Duane Bolick 1

Department of Computer Science and Engineering 1 Department of Electrical Engineering 2 Wright State University {dbolick,jgallagh},

Department of Biology 3 Case Western Reserve University


Introductory classes in the design and programming of mobile autonomous robots offer both potential and matriculated engineering students entertaining and engaging educational experiences that give them early experience with the kinds of open ended design problems they will face in their professional careers. By their nature, however, these classes often require some prior computer programming experience – which raises the threshold of entry to the very early career students who might most benefit from the extra motivation and depth provided by dealing with open-ended problems. In previous work we discussed minimizing dollar cost and maximizing physical access to a robot by creating a WWW/web cam based infrastructure and supporting open sourced robot simulation software. In this work, we will focus on additional work that addresses more fundamental pedagogical issues including ease of collaboration among geographically dispersed students and the design of educational materials more suitable for maintaining low threshold, high ceiling educational experiences for the students.

1. Previous Work –WWW Autonomous Robotics

Formal knowledge based classroom instruction is necessary for the education of engineers. However, it also requires practicum components in which students can experience both the joys and frustrations of actual design, implementation, and testing in an environment rich with possibilities and with the guidance of experienced mentors. Generally, design practica occur toward the end of a student’s undergraduate career. This is for good reason – many interesting problems require mastery of a significant body of knowledge to be approachable. On the other hand, many students receive enormous benefit from engaging in these design practica early in their undergraduate years. Not only do they get an early look at what real engineers do early on, they also are shown quite clearly why all the knowledge presented in the other courses is so valuable in practice. Many students who might otherwise drop out of, or never enter,

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

Bolick, D., & Drushel, R., & Gallagher, J. (2005, June), Increasing Accessibility To A First Year Engineering Course In Mobile Autonomous Robotics Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14879

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