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Upper Division Students Teaching Engineering Skills to Lower Division Students through Underwater Robotics

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2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting


Tempe, Arizona

Publication Date

April 20, 2017

Start Date

April 20, 2017

End Date

April 22, 2017

Conference Session

Technical Session 2d

Tagged Topic

Pacific Southwest Section

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Paper Authors


Andrew W Hostler Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo

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Andrew Hostler is an Electrical Engineering student Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He loves cables and connections of all sorts, be it ethernet, an ROV tether, or even a surfboard leash whenever he can. Most of his academic interest lies in embedded systems, hardware design, and systems engineering, especially for CNC machines and underwater robotics.

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Bridget Benson California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Bridget Benson received a Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obipso in 2005, a Master's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara in 2007 and a PhD degree in the Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California San Diego in 2010. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obipso. Her research interests span engineering education, embedded systems, and ecological monitoring.

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Many engineering students just starting out in their undergraduate career face problems with gaining hands on skills relevant to today’s workforce. The plethora of math, physics, and general education courses students take in their first two years of college, often precludes students from obtaining hands-on engineering experience until their junior year. Although engineering freshman and sophomore students are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities to obtain engineering project experience, many students are afraid to join these activities because they feel they do not know enough yet to be a valuable contributor to a club or instructionally related project team. This paper describes a 10 week, hands-on extra-curricular workshop that gives students across engineering disciplines an exciting introduction to practical skills in the fields of Engineering, Robotics, and Marine Technology. The aim of this workshop is to guide students through a design, build and test cycle of an ultra-low cost underwater robotics platform- the BudgetROV. This workshop involves CAD design, machining, soldering, and programming at an introductory level appropriate to freshman and sophomore engineering students. By conducting a workshop where each team is guided through building their own underwater robot from scratch (at a higher level from high school robotics clubs), students are able to obtain the hands-on skills and project experience they need to give them the motivation and confidence to seek out more opportunities to gain real-world engineering experience. In this paper, we describe the curriculum for this workshop and discuss student feedback that suggests the workshop will help students find further project opportunities (such as summer internships) and will help with the retention of engineering students to their majors.

Hostler, A. W., & Benson, B. (2017, April), Upper Division Students Teaching Engineering Skills to Lower Division Students through Underwater Robotics Paper presented at 2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, Tempe, Arizona.

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