Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings for the 2011 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference


An Interdisciplinary, Team-Based Mobile Robots Design Course for Engineering TechnologyAbstractThis work describes the educational experience gained during a new course in mobile robotics, a fourthyear elective course in the undergraduate Electrical Engineering Technology program at our University.The main topic of this course is concentrated on team-based, one semester-long robotics projects in whichstudents design and build mobile robots for different applications. A mobile robot is a system that contains mechanical and electronic parts that can be programmed toperform some specific functions, responding to sensory inputs under the control of an internal or externalcomputer. The reasons to use mobile robots as the main topic for the robotic course is that in addition toinvolving the electrical and mechanical engineering disciplines, robotics deals with other sciences andhumanities subjects, such as animal and human behavior imitation, learning techniques, and environmentinteractions. Robotic systems can relate to most processes in nature and human behavior. Because of this,their potential as educational tools for teaching and learning various subjects in technology and sciencesis unlimited The design and implementation of an autonomous navigation vehicle requires a broad knowledge inareas traditionally not covered in a single discipline. These areas include electrical and computerengineering, computing sciences, mechanical engineering, and other engineering disciplines. As a result,it is very difficult to train students and engineers within a single discipline to effectively design andimplement complex mobile robots. Thus, we felt that it was important to offer a robotics elective courseto establish an interdisciplinary framework to teach the basics and offer a structured course for educationin mobile robot design. One of the major goals of this new class is to expose students to industrial andcommercial quality design, and bridge the gap between conceptual understanding and concreteimplementations. After undergraduate students are able to apply abstract knowledge in concreteimplementations, subsequent higher-level, theory-oriented courses have more relevance.In this paper the authors present their experiences in using robotics in a one-semester course with focus ininterdisciplinary interactions and teamwork for the design and implementation of autonomous mobilerobots that have been able to participate in different robotic competitions that includes (but are notlimited) to the Trinity College Firefighting robotic competition, The Institute of Navigation (ION)Autonomous Lawn Mower and The international Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC)This course is used to fulfill ABET’s academic outcomes that require for engineering students to haveexperience working in interdisciplinary groups, be able to work in a team, and have experience inmanaging a project. The paper provides motivations and background information, describes the mobilerobotic team organization and the autonomous vehicle characteristics, the paper concludes with asummary and recommendations for future work.


Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Article obtained from the American Society for Engineering Education.