Using Multi-Robot Systems for Engineering Education: Teaching and Outreach with Large Numbers of an Advanced, Low-Cost Robot

This paper describes the experiences of using an advanced, low-cost robot in STEM education. It
presents three innovations: it is a powerful, cheap, robust and small advanced personal robot; it forms
the foundation of a problem-based learning curriculum; and it enables a novel multi-robot curriculum
while fostering collaborative team work on assignments. The robot design has many features specific to
educators: it is advanced enough for academic research, it has a broad feature set to support a wide range
of curricula, and is inexpensive enough to be an effective outreach tool. The low cost allows each student
to have their own robot for the semester, so they can work on activities outside the classroom. This
robot was used in three different classes in which it was the foundation for an innovative problem-based
learning curriculum. In particular, the robot has specialized sensors and a communications system that
supports novel multi-robot curricula, which encourage student interaction in new ways. The results are
promising; the robot was big success in graduate, undergraduate and outreach activities. Finally, student
assessments indicate a greater interest and understanding of engineering and other STEM majors, and
class evaluations were consistently above average.

Author: 
McLurkin J, Rykowski J, John M, Kaseman Q, Lynch A
Publication: 
IEEE Transactions on Education
Year: 
2012