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Multi Disciplinary Senior Design Project: A Case Study On A Multiple Mobile Robots Project

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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

Capstone & Educational Resource Developments

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.950.1 - 10.950.8



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Paper Authors

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George York

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Daniel Pack

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

Multi-Disciplinary Senior Design Project: A Case Study on a Multiple Mobile Robots Project

Tyler Gilbert, Tom Kubler, Adam Palmer, Harold Gilbert, Erlind G. Royer,George York, Gary Dameron, and Daniel Pack

United States Air Force Academy


In this paper, we present the conduct of a multidisciplinary team senior design project at the Air Force Academy (USAFA). The procedure is presented in the context of one senior design project. The project is carried out by a team made up of two senior students majoring in computer engineering, one senior student majoring in electrical engineering, and one instructor playing the roles of a system engineering major student and a system engineering management student. The instructor’s participation will help us define proper roles and academic standards for our new majors in Systems Engineering and Systems Engineering Management who will be enrolled in the senior design projects next academic year. The goal of the project is to create a group of mobile robots to search, detect, and destroy targets in an unknown environment. In addition to the design and construction of mobile robots with sensing and communication capabilities, the team must (1) solve a cooperative search problem, (2) develop appropriate communication protocols, and (3) devise strategies for multiple robots to detect and destroy targets cooperatively. To this end, each robot must operate autonomously within its environment, detect and avoid obstacles, and communicate with other robots. The project is analogous to unmanned aerial vehicles autonomously searching for and destroying targets. Once we discuss the desired learning outcomes that guided the execution of the project, we share the lessons we learned from this multidisciplinary project experience and point out important pedagogical issues observed by both students and faculty.

1. Introduction

Recently, an increasing number of higher education institutions are adopting team-based senior capstone design projects in their engineering senior design courses. The primary driving force behind the change is the requirement the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) imposes for all accredited undergraduate engineering programs [1]. The requirement is a reflection of the engineering customers’ (industry and, in our case, the United States Air Force) desire to hire engineering graduates who possess teamwork skills. This paper presents our collective experience, both students and faculty mentors, of conducting a team-based senior design project at the United States Air Force Academy. We present challenges associated with the administrative and technical aspects of completing a team project and share the lessons we have learned. The paper is organized as follows. In Section 3, we provide background information about the senior capstone design course at the Academy, followed by an overview of the particular team project in Section 4. Section 5 addresses the task scheduling for the large

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

York, G., & Pack, D. (2005, June), Multi Disciplinary Senior Design Project: A Case Study On A Multiple Mobile Robots Project Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14494

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