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Work in Progress: Using Cost-effective Educational Robotics Kits in Engineering Education

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Design Across the Curriculum 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Caroline Grace Sawatzki Saginaw Valley State University

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Caroline Sawatzki is a senior in the Electrical & Computer Engineering program at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), and has adopted a double minor in Mathematics and Japanese. Caroline expresses her love for helping her peers succeed academically through her employment at the SVSU Writing Center, where she assists students in the development of their professional and research writing skills. During her undergraduate education, Caroline has visited three countries as a representative of SVSU, which instilled in her a deep love for travel and fostering international partnerships. In the future, Caroline hopes to attend graduate school and seek employment in an industry that will allow her to motivate her knowledge of engineering principles, foreign languages, and cultural competency skills in service of others.

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Rajani Muraleedharan Saginaw Valley State University

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Dr. Rajani Muraleedharan is an associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and the faculty advisor for Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), Michigan. Dr. Muraleedharan obtained her Ph.D. at Syracuse University, New York. Before joining SVSU,
She worked as an 3/4 Full-time ECE Assistant professor at Rowan University, New Jersey and as a postdoctoral research associate at the Wireless Communications and Networking Group (WCNG), University of Rochester, New York. She also was a research intern at Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab
(MERL). Her research interest includes signal processing, computational intelligence, behavioral science, mobile-cloud computing, information and network security in heterogeneous sensor networks. Dr. Muraleedharan collaborates with researchers and mentors students on topics such as health and
emotion recognition for autistic children, cybersecurity, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), physics education, environmental monitoring and green energy applications.

Currently Dr. Muraleedharan is mentoring research on 'Multirotor Swarm for Autonomous Exploration of Indoor Spaces' project funded by Michigan Space Grant Consortium. She is the author/co-author of 2 book chapters, 4 journal papers, 31 conference and symposium IEEE/ACM papers, and 3 of which has won the best paper award. In 2009, Dr. Muraleedharan was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Assistant award and also received her Certificate in University Teaching from the Future Professoriate program at Syracuse University. She is the reviewer of IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation,
Neurocomputing, and Systems and Cybernatics, Wiley Security and Communications networks. Dr. Muraleedharan has participated in many professional and service activities university wide. In summer 2015, she instructed Middle school Robotics and Beyond Camp, and in 2014 served as a judge
for A.H. Nickless Innovation Award at SVSU. Dr. Muraleedharan strives to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for young girls and aspire young women engineers by volunteering for MindTrekkers event, Delta College, Middle school girls camp, ISD Bay Arenac and Girls Scouts, Michigan yearly.

Dr. Muraleedharan is a member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineering (SPIE), Women in Engineering (WIE), American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) and SWE. She is the Students activities chair, IEEE Northeast Michigan Section since 2014. She is the member of Institutional Review Board Committee, reviewer of Consumers Energy Engineering Talent Scholarship, and member of C of IDEAS at SVSU.

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The field of robotics is multidisciplinary, employing fundamental knowledge and building upon skills acquired in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science courses. Hands-on engagement, which has become increasingly difficult to facilitate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is an integral component of any comprehensive engineering education program. A project-based approach using low-cost, pre-made kits offers practical experience in teamwork and collaboration, system design and implementation, problem solving and refinement of interdisciplinary skillsets through projects that can be completed at home or in the classroom. Robotics instruction and experimentation provides a means to achieve robust interdisciplinary learning outcomes, facilitating long-term retention of engineering concepts by illustrating the connections between theory and practice. This paper aims to establish the need for design integration throughout the undergraduate curriculum, identify existing methodologies for design integration, and develop a practical model for instructional use of Arduino Engineering Kits to support design education in the SVSU Electrical Engineering program. The kit provides basic design instructions and programming guidance for three projects: a self-balancing motorcycle, a mobile rover, and a whiteboard drawing robot. Each project operates using an Arduino MKR1000 microcontroller. The mobile rover project was selected for the purposes of implementation after the foundational skill requirements and outcomes of each project were evaluated and matched to desired instructional outcomes across courses in the Electrical Engineering curriculum. Through amalgamation of the cognate fields of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, mechatronics and computer science, the curriculum design that emerges from this project will serve as a multidisciplinary educational tool.

Sawatzki, C. G., & Muraleedharan, R. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Using Cost-effective Educational Robotics Kits in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38209

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