WEBINAR: A Personal Evolution for Deployment of Mechatronics/Robotics Courses from 2000 - present

Friday, December 7, 10 am EST
Presenter: Dr. Venkat Krovi, Michelin Endowed Chair Professor of Automotive Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University

The mechatronic/robotic paradigm offers immense value for modulating physical power under computer-control and thereby extend the reach of humans in performing the 4D (dull-dumb-dirty-dangerous) tasks. System-level realizations require a synergistic merger of theories/technologies from multiple disciplines (mechanical, electrical, electronics and computational-science) to successfully straddle the physical-digital worlds. The ability to trade-off functionality via suitable blend of hardware/software components creates an enlarged design trade-space while ultimate subject to the real-world constraints of time/space/energy.

A truly renaissance mechatronics/robotics engineer now requires proficiency in both traditional engineering concepts as well as a systems engineering skillset for implementing the ensuing complex systems. The recent trend towards larger-scale distributed autonomous systems (capable of exploiting multimodal distributed and networked spatial and temporal data) has only served to exacerbate the challenges. Empowering students with proficiency in mechatronics/robotics requires exposing them to both the pedagogic concepts as well as experiential deployments – all within the curricular constraints of disciplinary-oriented courses.

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In this talk, Dr. Krovi will describe his efforts since 2000 at deploying mechatronics/robotics courses geared towards senior-undergraduate/first-year graduate engineering students, with limited prior exposure to mechatronic/robotics systems. Our emphasis on realizing reliable and robust systems builds on a scaffolded learning framework with significant experiential system-integration efforts layered through the course. The project-based learning emphasis – beginning with the individual 2-week labs early in the course culminating in an integrative final course project – facilitated active student engagement and, of course, contributed to the pressure and drama!

Over the years, the course content evolved to parallel the evolution of technologies: sensing (e.g., ultrasonic sensors to newer LIDAR), compute platforms (e.g., Basic Stamps/Arduino to ROS-based NVIDIA TK-1) and actuation (small modular-kits to larger-scale RC-Cars). Dr. Krovi will conclude with presenting vignettes of these deployments, discussion of lessons learned, and opportunities for future improvement.