A Field Robotics Program for Real World

Undergraduate Education

Lead Institution: Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA

Collaborating Institutions: Government agencies, commercial partners, non-profit entities, academic partners

Category: Course/Curricular/Interdisciplinary

Date Implemented: 1999

Website: rsl.engr.scu.edu

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Program Description: This interdisciplinary field robotics program run by the Santa Clara University (SCU) Robotic Systems Laboratory (RSL) is an integrative education program in which teams of students design/fabricate/test/demonstrate high-quality robotic systems that operate on land/sea/air/space and meet the specific needs of external clients. The nature of the program was influenced by the robotics-oriented interests of the lead faculty member and the need to simultaneously serve the teaching and research demands on faculty. Once a field-oriented robotics program was identified as the objective, financial demands naturally led to the pursuit of development projects with paying clients. These projects have included a wide range of partners from government, industry, academia, and the nonprofit sector. Over the past decade, interdisciplinary projects have involved faculty and students in a variety of academic departments, including mechanical, electrical, computer, civil, and bio-engineering, math/computer science, physics, archeology, and business. Specific objectives are to: (a) provide real-world, hands-on, interdisciplinary engineering education experiences, (b) provide project-based learning initiatives spanning cradle-to-grave product lifecycle, specifically including the challenges of producing, maintaining, and operating a robust field-capable system, (c) require students to plan, organize, and manage a team, development process, and operational activities in a fiscally and logistically sustainable manner, (d) work with customers to identify and solve problems cost-effectively, (e) provide engineering challenges that require research-oriented technology advancements, and (f) engage in compelling activities that inspire students. Projects engage students differently: junior/senior students target design challenges, cutting-edge capabilities motivate graduate researchers, and freshmen/sophomores are introduced to relevant technologies and practices by learning how to operate and maintain systems. Through the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN), we are working with other universities to provide students with opportunities that expose them to deep interactions with customers and demand the application of business acumen to the development and operation of advanced technical systems. Through the IEEE Real World Engineering Projects program, we will share curricular elements with universities throughout the world.

Anticipated and Actual Outcomes: Anticipated outcomes included: (1) learn advanced concepts and practices; (2) apply science, math and engineering principles to the design of advanced systems; (3) work with clients to understand needs, translate needs to requirements, manage implementation of requirements through a development process, and verify the achievement of requirements and needs upon completion; (4) manage development and operational activities to include creating fiscally and logistically sustainability strategies for long-term program viability; (5) engineer complete systems with the quality required to meet the demands of real-world operation and a client-oriented program; and (6) develop technical innovations that improve client value through increased performance, faster response, and improved cost-efficiency. We routinely reach capacity, and feedback from students, graduates, industry mentors, and department industrial advisory boards consistently supports the notion that we are providing exciting and novel opportunities for undergraduate engineering students. Evidence shows improved senior capstone project performance for robotics-oriented projects, and long-term client relationships and funding continuity showcase RSL’s value. Several publications include student authors and serve as a strong record of the level of technical innovation.

Assessment Information: Student learning is assessed based on the educational mechanisms used to support their participation, which may be different within a project given that students may be involved in different ways. Students participating in a project as part of a senior capstone program are assessed based on the established norms of the capstone program (designed to meet ABET requirements). Younger students may be involved in the same project as part of a 1-unit course in either marine operations or satellite operations. These courses teach students basic concepts relating to marine/space systems, how these systems are built and function, and how to safely and efficiently maintain and operate these systems. Students participating through such courses are evaluated based on the approved assessments for those classes. Students active on a project through other mechanisms (e.g., independent study, graduate research, internship) are assessed in a manner consistent with those educational activities. Through KEEN, we assess student learning at a programmatic level through detailed inventories assessing the maturation of student competencies and characteristics over their four-year program.

Funding/Sustainability: Although this program has been supplemented by education-oriented financial support, much of the funding results from customers who provide financial support for the system to be developed. Support is priced commensurate with the work and value provided, not based on a pre-set nominal fee. Systems are maintained and operated over subsequent years, and new students are trained to manage, maintain, and operate the systems in order to provide long-term services. Funding, at an average level of several hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, has been consistently secured through a variety of clients throughout the past decade. We will continue developing systems that specifically address the needs of clients that can afford to pay for our services and systems.



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A Field Robotics Program for Real World Undergraduate Education Lead Institution: Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA Collaborating Institutions: Government agencies, commercial partners, non-profit entities, academic partners Category: Course/Curricular/Interdisciplinary Date Implemented: 1999 Website: rsl.engr.scu.edu Program Description: This interdisciplinary field robotics program run by the Santa Clara University (SCU) Robotic Systems Laboratory (RSL) is an integrative education program in which teams of students design/fabricate/test/demonstrate long-term program viability; (5) engineer complete systems high-quality robotic systems that operate on land/sea/air/space with the quality required to meet the demands of real-world and meet the specific needs of external clients. The nature of operation and a client-oriented program; and (6) develop the program was influenced by the robotics-oriented interests of technical innovations that improve client value through in- the lead faculty member and the need to simultaneously serve creased performance, faster response, and improved cost- the teaching and research demands on faculty. Once a field- efficiency. We routinely reach capacity, and feedback from oriented robotics program was identified as the students, graduates, industry mentors, and department objective, financial demands naturally led to the industrial advisory boards consistently supports the pursuit of development projects with paying clients. notion that we are providing exciting and novel These projects have included a wide range of partners opportunities for undergraduate engineering students. from government, industry, academia, and the non- Evidence shows improved senior capstone project profit sector. Over the past decade, interdisciplinary performance for robotics-oriented projects, and long- projects have involved faculty and students in a term client relationships and funding continuity variety of academic departments, including mechani- showcase RSL’s value. Several publications include cal, electrical, computer, civil, and bio-engineering, student authors and serve as a strong record of the math/computer science, physics, archeology, and level of technical innovation. business. Specific objectives are to: (a) provide real-world, Assessment Information: Student learning is assessed based hands-on, interdisciplinary engineering education experiences, on the educational mechanisms used to support their participa- (b) provide project-based learning initiatives spanning cradle-to tion, which may be different within a project given that students -grave product lifecycle, specifically including the challenges may be involved in different ways. Students participating in a of producing, maintaining, and operating a robust field-capable project as part of a senior capstone program are assessed based system, (c) require students to plan, organize, and manage a on the established norms of the capstone program (designed to team, development process, and operational activities in a meet ABET requirements). Younger students may be involved fiscally and logistically sustainable manner, (d) work with in the same project as part of a 1-unit course in either marine customers to identify and solve problems cost-effectively, (e) operations or satellite operations. These courses teach students provide engineering challenges that require research-oriented basic concepts relating to marine/space systems, how these technology advancements, and (f) engage in compelling systems are built and function, and how to safely and efficiently activities that inspire students. Projects engage students maintain and operate these systems. Students participating differently: junior/senior students target design challenges, through such courses are evaluated based on the approved cutting-edge capabilities motivate graduate researchers, and assessments for those classes. Students active on a project freshmen/sophomores are introduced to relevant technologies through other mechanisms (e.g., independent study, graduate and practices by learning how to operate and maintain systems. research, internship) are assessed in a manner consistent with Through the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network those educational activities. Through KEEN, we assess student (KEEN), we are working with other universities to provide learning at a programmatic level through detailed inventories students with opportunities that expose them to deep interac- assessing the maturation of student competencies and character- tions with customers and demand the application of business istics over their four-year program. acumen to the development and operation of advanced techni- Funding/Sustainability: Although this program has been cal systems. Through the IEEE Real World Engineering supplemented by education-oriented financial support, much of Projects program, we will share curricular elements with the funding results from customers who provide financial universities throughout the world. support for the system to be developed. Support is priced Anticipated and Actual Outcomes: Anticipated outcomes commensurate with the work and value provided, not based on included: (1) learn advanced concepts and practices; (2) apply a pre-set nominal fee. Systems are maintained and operated science, math and engineering principles to the design of over subsequent years, and new students are trained to manage, advanced systems; (3) work with clients to understand needs, maintain, and operate the systems in order to provide long-term translate needs to requirements, manage implementation of services. Funding, at an average level of several hundreds of requirements through a development process, and verify the thousands of dollars each year, has been consistently secured achievement of requirements and needs upon completion; (4) through a variety of clients throughout the past decade. We will manage development and operational activities to include continue developing systems that specifically address the needs creating fiscally and logistically sustainability strategies for of clients that can afford to pay for our services and systems. 21