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Integration Of A Fire Fighting Robot Contest In Multi Level Engineering Education

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.622.1 - 6.622.9



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Paper Authors

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David J. Ahlgren

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Igor Verner

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Session 2620 Integration of a Fire-Fighting Robot Contest in Multi-Level Engineering Education David J. Ahlgren, Igor M. Verner Trinity College/Technion—Israel Institute of Technology


This paper examines the educational benefits of the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest and it describes contest-related curricular developments, both at university and high- school levels, that have been sponsored by Trinity College and the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology. The paper evaluates the value of the contest as a medium for team-based interdisciplinary design. Our findings are based on analysis of specific curricula as well as assessment surveys carried out at the 1999 and 2000 fire-fighting competitions.

I. Introduction

Traditional approaches to engineering curriculum and instruction are being changed in response to current and anticipated priorities in cross-disciplinary linkages, systems approaches, and project-oriented learning in interdisciplinary teams. This emphasis is evident in the EC2000 criteria published by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology [1]. Under the EC2000 model, engineering programs are evaluated by assessing success in meeting stated educational outcomes, including ABET's basic outcomes a – k. One ABET outcome, the "recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning [1]," can be met by engineering programs that offer, in addition to formal courses and laboratories, "co-curricular" activities outside the classroom. One co-curricular activity, participation in robot design competitions, is being pursued by a growing number of universities, colleges, and even secondary schools. For example, over the last seven years, hundreds of students from universities, high-schools, and junior high schools have participated, via this co-curricular model, in the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest (TCF2HRC).

We show, in this paper, that the contest has inspired curricular development at all educational levels while offering the opportunity for educators from around the world to compare contest- oriented curricula they have generated. Because robot design is an interdisciplinary process, contest-oriented curricula share a "threaded" approach in which the primary assignment--to develop an optimal robot for the competition -- is declared as the general goal of the curriculum. This goal threads knowledge and skills through the various disciplines taught in the course, creating a purposeful, project based learning process.

The paper presents experiences of the authors in developing robotics curricula at undergraduate college and high-school levels. We compare contest-related curricula, learning subjects, robot designs, and learning outcomes. Our assessment is based on educational surveys developed by the authors and administered at the 1999 and 2000 fire-fighting contests at Trinity College.

II. Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest

Dozens of robot contests announced on the Internet relate to different levels of engineering education and can be classified in three groups [2]: entry level, intermediate level, and advanced level. In the entry-level robot contest students participate without engineering background. A

Ahlgren, D. J., & Verner, I. (2001, June), Integration Of A Fire Fighting Robot Contest In Multi Level Engineering Education Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9424

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