Improving undergraduate engineering design instruction through lessons learned mentoring FIRST Lego League

Douglas Gabauer, Tim Bayse, Janis Terpenny, Richard Goff

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Engineering design courses at the undergraduate level pose substantial challenges to novice as well as veteran faculty, especially when implementing open-ended design problems to facilitate student learning. This paper presents a novel perspective on strategies and techniques used to teach undergraduate engineering design based on experience gained from mentoring FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams. FLL is designed to provide children age 9 to 14 with practical, hands-on experience in basic engineering design and computer programming. With guidance from mentors and coaches, teams are tasked with designing, building, and programming Lego® Mindstorms™ robots to perform specific objectives. Judging is based on the performance of the robot, a team presentation, teamwork, and a team discussion regarding the robot design. This paper describes FLL mentoring experience, and paradigms employed by FLL, in the context of teaching engineering design at the undergraduate level. Parallels are drawn between the FLL mentoring experiences and similar problems encountered in project-based undergraduate design courses. Improved teaching and evaluation paradigms are presented with the intent of enhancing the undergraduate design experience. FLL mentoring experience will be presented at two distinct team levels; one at the elementary school and one at the middle school level. Experiences at both levels are discussed with respect to their relevance to undergraduate engineering design and associated strategies that facilitate their implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2007
Event114th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2007 - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Jun 24 2007Jun 27 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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