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MAKER: An Entry-Level Robotic System Design Project for Undergraduates and K12

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





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Make It!

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Paper Authors


Rex H. Wong Vaughn College of Aeronautics & Technology

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Currently a professor at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, located at Queens, New York.
The courses I teach include DC/AC electric circuits analysis, control and communications systems, mechatronics and robotics, as well as some avionics courses in the past.

My interests of research area lies in robotics and its applications, particularly in service robotics (domestic or industrial), and integrated network of robotics and sensors (Internet of Things).

My involvement of robotic/mechatronic education ranges from robotic club, electronic club, to incubating the students start-ups, to online forum for robotic workshops...etc.

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Sheng-Jen Hsieh Texas A&M University

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Dr. Sheng-Jen (“Tony”) Hsieh is a Professor in the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. He holds a joint appointment with the Department of Engineering Technology and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include engineering education, cognitive task analysis, automation, robotics and control, intelligent manufacturing system design, and micro/nano manufacturing. He is also the Director of the Rockwell Automation laboratory at Texas A&M University, a state-of-the-art facility for education and research in the areas of automation, control, and automated system integration. He also serves as Director of an NSF Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program in the area of Mechatronics, Robotics, and Industrial Automation.

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The paper describes the design, construction, and the programming process for a small-scale mobile robot, which can monitor and report a house’s condition while the host is away from home. This system is one example of several that have been built by K-12 or undergraduate students learning about robotic system design. The hardware is based on LEGO Mindstorms Kit, which is powered by 6 AA batteries. The development software CD comes with the LEGO kit, and can also be downloaded from LEGO’s official website. Since the system was constructed by using plastic blocks of LEGO components, so no machining or parts fabrication was required. During this project, students would learn how to build the required robot platform according to the instruction and how to make connection between sensors/motor or interface I/O devices with the micro-controller (NXT) which is the core and brain of entire robotic system. Students also learn the programming logics in order to make robot perform the required task. The software tool is an icon-based proprietary programming language, NXT-G, developed by LEGO and/or its affiliated organization. This easy to use programming tool is drag and drop from icon palette, almost no coding required. It saves students a lot of debugging time for syntax errors or other trivial linking and compiling seen in generic programming languages. Because it is GUI-based, it is very easy for beginner to trouble-shoot and fix the programs to suit the new tasks. This unit does not end here. Students should augment this project and develop their own robotic projects with additional function or task based on this model.

Wong, R. H., & Hsieh, S. (2016, June), MAKER: An Entry-Level Robotic System Design Project for Undergraduates and K12 Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25603

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