Bridging theory and practice in a dual level robotics course for mechanical and electrical engineers

Ping Ren, Dennis Hong, Janis Terpenny, Richard Goff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


As a diverse discipline, robotics is a synthesis of a variety of subjects such as kinematics, dynamics, controls, mechatronics, mechanical design, artificial intelligence etc. The crossover of multiple areas makes the instruction of robotics courses a challenging task. Traditional robotics courses in mechanical and electrical engineering mainly focus on the analysis and modeling of classical robotic systems such as a two-to-six degrees of freedom serial robotic manipulator or a simple wheeled mobile robot. However, as more and more new branches of robotics are emerging in recent years (biologyinspired robots, nanorobotics and so on), it has become clear that materials covered in traditional robotics courses are not sufficient for students to solve new problems or create new robotic systems. It is therefore imperative that robotics courses be updated, and in many cases, redesigned to account for new branches of robotics that call on students to be competent in the theoretical underpinnings and also have the skills and confidence to apply these to real applications demanded by current practice. This paper first introduces the importance of robotics courses in the curriculum of engineering programs, followed by results of a survey that reports on the features of robotics courses in several universities in the United States and a few other countries. The difficulties of designing a robotics course are then addressed. Finally, the structure of a new graduate/senior dual level robotics course is presented, including preliminary results and opportunities for future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-81
Number of pages12
JournalComputers in Education Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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