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Work in Progress: Building the Mechatronics and Robotics Education Community

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Experiences

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Michael A. Gennert Worcester Polytechnic Institute Orcid 16x16

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Michael A. Gennert is Professor of Robotics Engineering, CS, and ECE at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he leads the WPI Humanoid Robotics Laboratory and was Founding Director of the Robotics Engineering Program. He has worked at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, the University of California Riverside, PAR Technology Corporation, and General Electric. He received the S.B. in CS, S.B. in EE, and S.M. in EECS in 1980 and the Sc.D. in EECS in 1987 from MIT. Dr. Gennert's research interests include robotics, computer vision, and image processing, with ongoing projects in humanoid robotics, robot navigation and guidance, biomedical image processing, and stereo and motion vision. He led WPI teams in the DARPA Robotics Challenge and NASA Space Robotics Challenge and is author or co-author of over 100 papers. His research has been supported by DARPA, NASA, NIH, NSF, and industry. He is a member of Sigma Xi, and a senior member of IEEE and ACM.

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Nima Lotfi Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

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Nima Lotfi received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Sahand University of Technology, Tabriz, Iran, in 2006, his M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran, in 2010, and his Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology,
Rolla, MO, USA, in 2016. He is currently an Assistant Professor with the Mechanical Engineering Department at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL, USA. His current research interests include characterization and electrochemical modeling of Li-ion batteries, traditional and electrochemical model-based Li-ion battery management system design, and real-world applications of
control and estimation theory especially in alternative and renewable energy systems, mechatronics, robotics, and electrified and autonomous transportation. Dr. Lotfi is a member of the IEEE Control Systems Society and ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Division.

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James A. Mynderse Lawrence Technological University Orcid 16x16

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James A. Mynderse, PhD is an Associate Professor in the A. Leon Linton Department of Mechanical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University. His research interests include mechatronics, dynamic systems, and control with applications to piezoelectric actuators, hysteresis, and perception. He serves as the faculty advisor for the LTU Baja SAE team.

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Monique Jethwani


Vikram Kapila NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering Orcid 16x16

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Vikram Kapila is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering (NYU Tandon), where he directs a Mechatronics, Controls, and Robotics Laboratory, a Research Experience for Teachers Site in Mechatronics and Entrepreneurship, a DR K-12 research project, and an ITEST research project, all funded by NSF. He has held visiting positions with the Air Force Research Laboratories in Dayton, OH. His research interests include K-12 STEM education, mechatronics, robotics, and control system technology. Under a Research Experience for Teachers Site, a DR K-12 project, and GK-12 Fellows programs, funded by NSF, and the Central Brooklyn STEM Initiative (CBSI), funded by six philanthropic foundations, he has conducted significant K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach activities to integrate engineering concepts in science classrooms and labs of dozens of New York City public schools. He received NYU Tandon’s 2002, 2008, 2011, and 2014 Jacobs Excellence in Education Award, 2002 Jacobs Innovation Grant, 2003 Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2012 Inaugural Distinguished Award for Excellence in the category Inspiration through Leadership. Moreover, he is a recipient of 2014-2015 University Distinguished Teaching Award at NYU. His scholarly activities have included 3 edited books, 9 chapters in edited books, 1 book review, 62 journal articles, and 154 conference papers. He has mentored 1 B.S., 35 M.S., and 5 Ph.D. thesis students; 58 undergraduate research students and 11 undergraduate senior design project teams; over 500 K-12 teachers and 118 high school student researchers; and 18 undergraduate GK-12 Fellows and 59 graduate GK-12 Fellows. Moreover, he directs K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach programs that enrich the STEM education of over 1,000 students annually.

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Building the Mechatronics and Robotics Education Community

Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering (MRE) is one of the engineering disciplines that is experiencing tremendous, dynamic growth. MRE professionals are shaping the world by designing smart systems and processes that will improve human welfare. This requires an interdisciplinary knowledge of mechanical, electrical, computer, software, and systems engineering to oversee the entire design and development process. There have been many educational efforts around MRE, including courses, minors, and degree programs, but they have not been well integrated or widely adopted. Now is the time for MRE to coalesce as a distinct and identifiable engineering discipline. To this end and with support from the National Science Foundation, the authors have planned three workshops, first of which was just concluded, on the future of MRE education at the bachelor’s degree and postgraduate levels.

The objectives of these workshops are to generate enthusiasm and a sense of community among current and future educators, promote diversity and inclusivity within the community, seek feedback from the community to serve as a foundation for future activities, and identify thought leaders for future community activities. The workshops will benefit a wide range of participants including educators currently teaching in MRE; PhD students seeking academic careers in MRE; and industry professionals desiring to shape the future workforce. These workshops will significantly contribute to the quality of MRE education and increase adoption to prepare individuals with a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical hands-on learning.

Workshop activities include short presentations on sample MRE programs; breakout sessions on topics such as mechatronic and robotics knowledgebase, project-based learning, advanced and open-source platforms, reducing barriers to adoption, accreditation, preparation to teach MRE, and community-building; and open discussion. In this paper, the outcomes of the first workshop, results of the qualitative and quantitative surveys collected from the participants, and their analyses will be presented. Particular attention is paid to attendee demographics, changes in participant attitudes, and development of the MRE community.

Gennert, M. A., & Lotfi, N., & Mynderse, J. A., & Jethwani, M., & Kapila, V. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Building the Mechatronics and Robotics Education Community Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33598

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