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Lessons Learned from Team-­Teaching a PBL Robotics Course with Multi-­disciplinary Instructors and Students

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Systems Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1086.1 - 26.1086.9



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Paper Authors


Jose M. Garcia Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jose Garcia has been involved in several local and statewide recruitment events, where he was able to develop short workshops in fluid power and STEM. He is also working on the development of a new generation of hydraulic components and systems that can operate using environmentally friendlier fluids. Dr. Garcia has plans to actively continue the development of practical teaching tools that bring industry applications to the classroom.

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Rick Homkes Purdue University

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Rick Homkes is an associate professor of Computer & Information Technology at the Purdue College of Technology. He has also worked many years in industry, including as a software engineer for embedded systems.

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Mark T. Carnes Purdue University

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Mark Carnes is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) and is currently an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Technology at Purdue University. He is also nearing completion of studies for a doctorate in Engineering Education, also at Purdue. Before coming to Purdue, he spent over 30 years as an electronics designer of control and power conversion circuits. He received an MS from the University of Michigan (1982) and a BS from the University of Notre Dame (1975), both in Electrical Engineering. His current research interests are in the areas of conceptual understanding and mental modeling among engineering students. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is also the coach of the Purdue-Kokomo Robotic Football Team.

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Kevin D. Taylor Purdue University

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Kevin Taylor is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology. In 2009-2010 he served as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC) of ABET and continues his work with ABET as a consultant. He is a Senior Member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), and a member of the Society of Automotive (SAE). Kevin is the Affiliate Director for Project Lead the Way® (PLTW) at Purdue, a program that focuses on introducing engineering concepts in middle and high schools in the United States.

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Lessons  learned  from  team-­‐teaching  a  PBL  robotics  course  with  multi-­‐disciplinary  instructors  and  students.      A  group  of  nine  upper  classmen  undergraduate  technology  students  were  enrolled  in  a  Design  of  Robotic  Systems  class  in  the  fall  of  2014.  This  class  was  co-­‐taught  by  professors  from  the  mechanical  engineering  technology  (MET),  electrical  engineering  technology  (EET)  and  the  computer  and  information  technology  (CIT)  programs  at  X  University.      The  goal  of  this  paper  is  to  document  the  activities  carried  out  during  the  semester  the  class  was  taught  and  present  the  lessons  learned  from  teaching  students  with  the  diverse  backgrounds  in  MET,  EET  and  CIT.    The  objective  of  the  course  was  to  provide  a  project  based  learning  (PBL)  experience  to  the  students  taking  the  class.    In  the  class  the  students  were  tasked  to  specify  and  design  sub-­‐systems  for  prototype  robots.  During  the  semester,  the  students  attended  lectures  and  labs  that  were  heavily  focused  on  hands-­‐on  activities  relevant  to  design  of  those  sub-­‐systems.  Interdisciplinary  student  teams  were  introduced  early  in  the  semester  so  that  the  requirements  specification  and  design  processes  would  have  multiple  views.      The  initial  portion  of  the  course  focused  on  topics  related  to  team  management,  the  design  process  and  modeling  and  visualization  of  parts  and  systems.  The  second  part  of  the  course  was  centered  on  specific  technical  aspects  for  the  design  of  robotic  systems.  These  topics  included:  batteries,  sensors  and  data  acquisition,  software  control,  mechanisms  and  propulsion.  The  last  part  of  the  class  focused  on  topics  involving  the  actual  construction  of  the  robotic  systems.  The  themes  for  these  final  lectures  revolved  around  manufacturing  techniques,  reading  and  making  electrical  sketches,  electric  power  conversion  and  design  for  robustness.  Readings  from  the  Systems  Engineering  Body  of  Knowledge  (SEBoK)  were  assigned  so  that  the  students  would  see  how  a  systems  engineering  view  improves  both  the  process  and  product,  to  motivate  the  students  to  have  a  broader  perspective  of  the  topics  being  taught  in  the  class,  and  to  serve  as  a  bonding  agent  between  the  topics,  the  project,  the  students  and  the  faculty.    In  addition  to  the  narrative  of  the  course,  this  paper  also  documents  the  assessment  tools  used  for  the  class  and  lessons  learned  during  the  process.          

Garcia, J. M., & Homkes, R., & Carnes, M. T., & Taylor, K. D. (2015, June), Lessons Learned from Team-­Teaching a PBL Robotics Course with Multi-­disciplinary Instructors and Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24423

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