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Systems Engineering Education through Participation in Engineering Competitions

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Systems Engineering Education and K-12

Tagged Divisions

Engineering Management, Systems Engineering, and Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1231.1 - 25.1231.18



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Paper Authors


Fernando Garcia Gonzalez Texas A&M International University

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Fernando Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor of engineering at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas. Previously, he was a technical staff member at Los Alamos National Laboratory and an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla. Gonzalez holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include intelligent control of autonomous systems, robotics, and modeling and simulation.

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Systems Engineering Education through Participation in Engineering  Competitions  There are many student competitions involving complex engineering designs and in particular involving robotics or robotic vehicles. In the Department of Defense’s Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, IGVC, Students create autonomous vehicles that navigate an obstacle course using only its own systems with no human interaction. This results in the vehicle having very complex and sophisticated engineering systems including vision, a laser range finder, global positioning systems and many other sensory devises. It also involves very sophisticated software to perform the autonomous navigation using the sensor inputs. The complexity of the project necessitates the involvement of a relatively large group of students working together on different parts of the system.  The           Robotics Lab has been participating in the annual IGVC competition since 2002. In this project the students learn about most of the engineering disciplines that are typically included in a complex robotic project such as software design, computer vision, sensor data interpretation and fusion, robotic motion planning, vehicle navigation, vehicle design and construction, electric motor control, computer interfaces to various components and many others. Naturally this education compliments the core engineering education they receive during their course education. However one very important engineering discipline that they learn is systems engineering. The success of the project involves a strong systems engineering effort to integrate all the individual components, to design the overall system, to consider the complete life cycle, and to coordinate and oversee the project and its team members. The team generally shares the systems engineering responsibility as they are all involved in the higher level decisions that need to be made. This exposes all of the students in the team to systems engineering education which is especially beneficial when you consider that most engineering programs still do not include systems engineering.  Presented in this paper is how a student robotics competition involving the design and construction of a complex autonomous vehicle effectively gives the student team members real life systems engineering experience.  

Gonzalez, F. G. (2012, June), Systems Engineering Education through Participation in Engineering Competitions Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21988

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