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Robot Racing from Targeted Kit-based Components to a Functional System

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mechatronics and Robotics II

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Luis Alberto Rodriguez Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Luis A. Rodriguez is currently an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He completed his doctoral training at the University of California-Irvine where he was a National Science Foundation Bridge to the Doctorate Fellow. He completed his master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was a GEM fellow and Graduate Engineering Research Scholar. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from University of California San Diego. His interests include robot control, design of mechatronics systems, pneumatic actuation, motion planning and optimal control.

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Michael D. Cook Milwaukee School of Engineering Orcid 16x16

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Michael D. Cook is an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, USA. His interests are in control system design and optimization of mixed-physics dynamic systems, with current research in power flow control with emphasis on the optimization and decentralized control of microgrids.

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William C Farrow Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. WILLIAM C. FARROW has been teaching at the Milwaukee School of Engineering full time for 10 years in the Mechanical Engineering department. Besides teaching courses related to engineering design and engineering mechanics he works with students pursuing aerospace career goals. Dr. Farrow has worked for McDonnell Aircraft Comp., Eaton Corporation’s Corporate Research Division, and at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab as a Faculty Research Fellow.

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Affordable computing power and open source hardware have provided many opportunities to enhance STEM education for students. Consequently, numerous electronic retailers offer a diverse array of electronic or educational kits, however without a structured pedagogical framework, students without any prior experience simply learn how to interact with individual components and miss out on how they can be integrated into a system. In this paper, we present our experience in implementing a freshman mechanical engineering course focused on the following main objectives: 1) promoting a computation mindset, 2) encouraging programming multilingualism, 3) providing opportunities to develop essential troubleshooting skills of hardware and software programs, and 4) stimulating self-learning of new hardware. The students’ lab experiences begin with a structured presentation of analog and digital components and culminates with an open-ended project where students are tasked with developing a robot racer to compete with other students. During the course, students begin programming with MATLAB to reinforce programming concepts and transition to using C programming to implement an embedded solution. A survey was provided to learn about the student’s experiences and to help improve future course offerings.

Rodriguez, L. A., & Cook, M. D., & Farrow, W. C. (2020, June), Robot Racing from Targeted Kit-based Components to a Functional System Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35166

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