Vertically Integrating a Robotics Thread Through the Undergraduate ECE Curriculum at MSU-Bozeman

PI: Brock LaMeres, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Montana State University - Bozeman
CO-PI: Ross Snider, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Montana State University - Bozeman

NASA's Space Technology Roadmap identifies robotics as one of the key technologies needed to meet its science and exploration goals. Educating tomorrow’s engineers in the fundamentals of robotics is crucial to assisting NASA meet its goals; however, robotics is a topic that encompasses a large number of technical aspects that a single course can rarely address in the span of a semester. We propose to address this challenge by creating a vertically integrated robotics thread through the electrical & computer engineering curriculum at MSU-Bozeman. This will be accomplished by adopting a commercial robotics platform that can be used at each level of the undergraduate curriculum as the target of laboratory exercises. The multifaceted nature of this single platform will allow a variety of learning objectives to be met across multiple courses at different points in the curriculum. In the freshman year, the students will learn the concepts of high-level computer programming by writing simple programs to control the motors and sensors. In the sophomore year, students will design their own circuitry to generate the signals used to control the motors. In the junior year, students will learn the basics of computer architecture by programming the low-level drivers for the motors and sensors using assembly language. By the time the students reach their senior year, they will have a base competence using this robotic platform which will enable hands-on experience in advanced concepts that previously were unobtainable. These include control theory, wireless communication, power electronics and embedded systems. Adopting a single platform to be used throughout the curriculum will not only increase the depth in which robotics can be explored, but will reduce the cost associated with maintaining multiple laboratory platforms.


Contact Information

Mail: Brock J. LaMeres
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Montana State University - Bozeman
Bozeman, MT 59717
E-mail: Brock LaMeres
Phone: (406) 994-5987

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Updated September 19, 2014