Institutes & Research

Laboratory Based Robotics

Program Features

A two-course, senior-level robotics curriculum is being developed and offered; Robotics-I and Robotics–II. A 3 credit-hour Robotics-I (see syllabus for Robotics-1) is offered by the Mechanical Engineering (ME) Department during Fall semesters and is a prerequisite for the Robotics-II. The 3 credit-hour Robotics-II (see syllabus for Robotics-2) is offered by the Electrical Engineering (EE) Department during Spring semesters and complements the previously covered topics. Both EE and ME departments modified their course offerings as to include the robotics courses as electives and the ME department also modified its existing robotics course content to ensure its compatibility with this program. In addition to EE and ME students, the two-course robotics curriculum is available to all interested students from different engineering disciplines and colleges as an elective.  

 The two-course robotics curriculum content and development stages is being aligned with the IEEE Region 5, Southwestern USA Region, student robotics competition (IEEE-Region 5 Competition). The IEEE Region 5 competitions take place annually and involve college level students from several states (See supporting documents for details). The IEEE Region 5 organization develops a different set of rules, tasks, and corresponding practical engineering project descriptions each year and usually announces these guidelines in late August. The competition takes place in late April with the final products from each participating college. Not only the IEEE Region 5 competition nicely allows this two-course robotics curriculum in Fall and Spring semesters, but also it presents challenging real-life design projects for the robotics students and it increases the effect of this two-course robotics curriculum on many undergraduate students from these states. Furthermore, the well-qualified Principle Investigators of this program develops and teaches all required course materials and modules, addressing the standard requirements of engineering courses and the specific needs of the competition tasks each year (See Table 3 and Table 4). If a competition task or application requires new concepts to be introduced during the courses, the project investigators will develop the course material and cover them during the lectures and labs. 

 Both Robotics-I and Robotics-II courses includes a 2-hour lecture (2 credits) and a 3-hour lab (1 credit) sessions. The lectures are being given as outlined in the course modules (See Table 1 and Table 2). The lectures are scheduled on Wednesdays and the lab on Tuesdays; various project-related assignments are being given after each lecture and will be due at the beginning of the next lab session. The robotics students are being divided into teams and each team, independently from other teams, as to develop their own design as well as build their own robot according to the IEEE Region 5 competition guidelines. The students discuss and elaborate on the project findings, and work on the component design of the competition project. The students and teams are being asked to itemize/document the activities of each week. The project investigators will closely examine the student and team progress based on the observations and documentations, and give feedback to each student or team about the design progress. 

The two-course robotics students gain educational experience as well as perform engineering outreach by conducting peer-mentoring activities for the South Texas area high school students. The Texas A&M University-Kingsville Robotics Competitions (TAMUK Robotics), supported by the Coastal Bend Robotics, Inc., take place annually on the Texas A&M University-Kingsville campus and involve at least 15-20 South Texas area junior-high and high schools. The TAMUK Robotics competition guideline defines a different set of tasks and specifications each year, gives a same set of tools and components to each participating school and asks each team to design and build their robot according to specifications. Moreover, the TAMUK Robotics organization provides college mentors to each high school robotics team. With the support and commitment of the TAMUK Robotics leadership (see supporting documents for the commitment letter), the two-course Robotics undergraduate students mentor high school teams, i.e., peer-mentoring, by meeting and working with teams at least once a month (more frequently during the TAMUK Robotics competition preparation) and leverage their knowledge and experience during these mentoring activities. This activity will both increase the valuable educational experience for robotics students and attract more Hispanic population to STEM disciplines. The project investigators have been extensively involved with the TAMUK Robotics competitions and have observed that hands-on robotics design in a competition-driven environment extremely motivates prospective college student, gives them self-confidence and school pride and appeal students with broad backgrounds. 

 The impact of the two-course robotics curriculum is being extended to lower-level undergraduate students from all disciplines. As part of their course requirements, the robotics students establish a robotics club on the campus and interact with freshman, sophomore and junior students from all majors to promote robotics and associated engineering fields. The robotics club members meet every other week during the semesters and exchange their educational and practical experiences Furthermore, at least one week before the IEEE Region 5 competition in late-April, the student-run robotics club organize a campus-wide outreach activity that is supported by the project investigator and sponsored by this project, during which the existing robotics curriculum will be presented to prospective students and the internal robotics class competition among the teams takes place to choose the winning team that will participate in the IEEE Region 5 competition. After the internal competition, the winning team, faculty and other teams’ feedback is being utilized to perform the necessary modifications of the project product and the winning team will be ready to go to the main regional competition at the last week of April.