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Lessons Learned From A Mobile Robot Based Mechatronics Course

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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

10.890.1 - 10.890.9



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Paper Authors

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Peter Wild

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Kevin Firth

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Brian Surgenor

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

Lessons Learned from a Mobile Robot Based Mechatronics Course

Brian Surgenor*, Kevin Firth* and Peter Wild**

* Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Queen’s University ** Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Victoria


Experience with an elective course in mechatronics is discussed. The course is structured around a series of laboratories involving a mobile robot. The course introduces students to selected sensor and actuator technologies and sensitizes them to mechatronic systems design issues. The course is organized to promote a high level of active learning. The course has been very well received by students to date and the reasons for its success are examined.


This paper describes experience with an elective course in mechatronics. The course covers the application of electronics and microcontrollers to electro-mechanical systems. It employs a series of ‘design, build and test’ tasks involving a mobile robot that was designed and constructed at Queen’s University. The “MechBOT” mobile robot has a large platform where sensors, actuators and associated circuits can be easily mounted and easily removed.

The majority of students taking the course are in mechanical engineering. There are some students from engineering physics and engineering mathematics. The objective is to expose students to elements of electrical and computing engineering, in much the same way that students are exposed to elements of manufacturing engineering in a machine shop course. The objective in an undergraduate machine shop course is not to turn students into machinists, but to sensitize them to the capabilities and limitations of machine tools. The mechatronics course does not cover the full range of computing, electrical and mechanical engineering topics that come under the heading of mechatronics engineering, but instead introduces students to sensor and actuator technologies and sensitizes them to mechatronic systems design issues.

Since the introduction of mobile robots in 1999 [1], the course has evolved as the instructors sought the appropriate level of structure and content, that would promote active learning, without requiring excessive time commitments on the part of the students and excessive resources from the department [2]. In terms of structure, the course is now organized to provide a combination of lectures, tutorials and laboratories at the beginning of the term, that culminate in a team project at the end of the term. The project requires a group of students to work in a cooperative fashion to create a team of mobile robots, a team that must perform a

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Wild, P., & Firth, K., & Surgenor, B. (2005, June), Lessons Learned From A Mobile Robot Based Mechatronics Course Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14171

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