June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Electrical and Computer
15.998.1 - 15.998.14
Project-Based Thematic Learning though a Multicourse Multidisciplinary Robotics Project Abstract
The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at the United States Naval Academy has introduced a novel project-based thematic learning approach by incorporating a robotics project into its curriculum. This project first and foremost captures the student interest, while being flexible enough to present ECE topics at all levels of the undergraduate ECE program of study. The robot project spans from Introductory Circuits and Digital Logic Courses through to Capstone Design. In the introductory courses, the student receives a broad overview of ECE with projects designed to capture the student’s interest while covering the many facets of the course. Additionally, students in the first year digital logic course are presented with innovative projects that challenge them to program basic autonomous functions into the robot. Using the robot concurrently in both courses emphasizes how the many facets of ECE work together. The robot project continues through the senior year Capstone Project, where it is used to cover such topics as design tradeoffs to advanced navigation algorithms for autonomous robots. Each course highlights different aspects of the robot. As the students understanding of ECE grows, the depth and complexity of the projects increases. By incorporating this robot platform into the curriculum there is a marked improvement in student participation and interest in the major. The robot platform successfully exceeded expectations at all levels. This robotic platform is an ideal multicourse multidiscipline project-based learning tool.
The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at the United States Naval Academy has introduced a novel project-based thematic learning approach by incorporating a robotics project into its curriculum. Incorporating robotics into the undergraduate curriculum has been accomplished in many other colleges, but the robot platform is fixed.1 Additionally, there are many commercial robot kits on the market, but the vast majority of them have predetermined hardware with well defined functions. Our ECE Department wanted something that is not only flexible, but has the minimum number of black boxes; items the students do not fully understand, but often allow plug and play compatibility. This type of project would aid students in understanding each individual component and how they work together to make the whole.
This project was created to help students, not only by interesting them in the subject, but also by providing more project based learning in the curriculum, which results in both practical applications and hands on experience. This approach provides many benefits as noted by Bower, Mays, and Miller.2 This paper will show that a flexible robot platform for a multicourse multidiscipline project is an ideal project-based learning tool to expose students to ECE fundamentals though advanced topics.
Shey, J., & Rakvic, R., & Salem, T., & Firebaugh, S. (2010, June), Project Based Thematic Learning Though A Multicourse Multidisciplinary Robotics Project Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15983
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