This paper describes the implementation and assessment of an innovative senior/graduate level mechatronics (robotics) module that integrated structured and unstructured learning experiences, in collaboration with an industry partner. With real-world constraints and expectations, students designed and delivered a product as the final project. In fall 2007, the corporate partner provided state-of-the-art, programmable robotic kits with a user-friendly programming environment. The assigned project was to design a biomedical robot to work in a hospital intensive care unit (ICU) to perform tasks such as transporting supplies or delivering paperwork. Students with diverse skills and majors were grouped in ten teams, two to three students each. Student learning activities included designing a robot from a box of FisherTechnik materials, without the aid of instruction manuals; writing program code using the PCS environment; and integrating hardware and software. After four weeks of building, training, and testing, each team’s robot was unique. In the final competition, each robot was assigned to a particular room in the ICU to perform a specific task. Overall, the results indicated that the students gained hands-on experience with the state-of-art technology and effectively applied the conceptual course content to a real application.
Nandikolla, Vidya; Shadle, Susan; Pyke, Patricia; Gardner, John; Grover, Robert; and Pharkute, Suhas. (2008). "Real-World Industry Collaboration within a Mechatronics Class". Frontiers in Education Conference, 2008, F3A-14 - F3A-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/FIE.2008.4720526