June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.877.1 - 14.877.11
MERI: Multidisciplinary Educational Robotics Initiative
This paper will describe the implementation of an innovative multidisciplinary robotics certificate program at a small teaching institution in the Midwestern United States. The Multidisciplinary Educational Robotics Initiative (MERI) is a product of a collaborative effort between faculty in Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE), Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and Mechanical Engineering (ME). At this institution, a certificate is defined as a minor across multiple disciplines, e.g. CSSE, ECE, and ME. This is a groundbreaking program with the certificate curriculum approved in fall 2008. This paper will present the motivation for the certificate program, expected outcomes, details of the program and curriculum, select courses in the program, first graduates of the program, assessment and future work. Why a Robotics Program? A robotics certificate or degree program is an increasingly relevant program for undergraduate engineering institutions for a number of reasons, including recruitment, multidisciplinary teamwork, and industry demand.
The multidisciplinary nature of robotics presents an excellent opportunity to attract students with diverse interests to our institution while fostering multidisciplinary teamwork and illustrating connections between engineering and computing. Robotics has recently become a major attraction to science and technology, due in part to the success of the FIRST (For Interest and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Program1 , BotBall2, and other such competitions. This institution’s Admissions department reports that prospective students often express a desire to participate in robotics research and take robotics-related courses at the college level. Therefore, the implementation of the multidisciplinary robotics certificate will help with recruitment efforts3. In addition, faculty and students enrolled in the certificate program will participate in K-12 outreach such as mentoring middle school and high school robotics programs. Students in the program will also demonstrate their robotics projects to tour groups, increasing visibility and attracting students to our institution. In fact, the final project robotics competition for one of the early courses in the robotics curriculum has already been featured on the campus web site and in the local newspaper. Additionally, faculty with an expertise in robotics will be attracted to a school with a visible, established robotics education program and research.
Robots are mechanical systems with electrical controls and sensors, given intelligence through software. As such, it would be ideal for teams with a collective expertise in these areas to implement and use these systems. The multidisciplinary nature of robotics makes it ideal for teaching collaborative teamwork and the integration of different fields of science, computing, and engineering. Students who participate in these projects will graduate with a deeper and
Berry, C., & Boutell, M., & Chenoweth, S., & Fisher, D. (2009, June), Meri: Multidisciplinary Educational Robotics Initiative Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4962
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