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Project Based Thematic Learning Though A Multicourse Multidisciplinary Robotics Project

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Conference

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Design in the ECE Curriculum

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

15.998.1 - 15.998.14

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/15983

Download Count

68

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Paper Authors

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James Shey United States Naval Academy

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James Shey received the B.S. degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the United States Naval Academy in 2003, the M.S. in electrical engineering degree from University of Maryland, College Park, in 2008, and the Master of Engineering Management degree from Old Dominion University in 2008. He is currently Active Duty Navy serving as a Senior Instructor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the United States Naval Academy and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Maryland.

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Ryan Rakvic United States Naval Academy

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Ryan N. Rakvic received the B.S. degree in computer engineering from University of Michigan and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Ryan is currently an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Prior to that, Ryan spent 5 years in the computer research lab at Intel Corporation in Santa Clara, California. During his time at Intel, he invented creative ways to increase the performance of Pentium microprocessors. More recently, he is attempting to utilize the emerging efficiency of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) to outperform a general purpose microprocessor both in terms of performance and power efficiency.

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Thomas Salem United States Naval Academy

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Thomas Salem received the B.S.E. degree from Grove City College and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from The University of Alabama. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the United States Naval Academy, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Pennsylvania.

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Samara Firebaugh United States Naval Academy

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Samara Firebaugh received the B.S.E. in electrical engineering from Princeton University in 1995 and the M.S. and Ph. D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997 and 2001, respectively. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the United States Naval Academy. She has conducted research in several areas of Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) including microscale chemical reactor systems, integrated photoacoustic spectroscopy, microwave switches, variable thermal radiators and microscale robotics.

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

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.

Introduction

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. https://peer.asee.org/15983

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