College students in Montana are often unaware of the available educational and career opportunities in aerospace science and engineering, yet they typically express a fascination with the U.S. space program and space exploration in general. To help address this gap, the Montana Space Grant Consortium in 2004-2005 funded the development of a new autonomous robot curriculum for EE 101: Introduction to Electrical Fundamentals Lab. EE 101, the required introductory course taught by the MSU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), has been extremely successful due to the MSGC-sponsored curricular changes: nearly 200 students have now assembled, tested, and successfully completed their own ECEbot robots during the last three semesters. The importance of autonomous robots to future planetary exploration missions is clear to our students, so robot construction has been an ideal area to exploit for educational purposes. We now propose to inspire the students' interest in aerospace careers still further by implementing a series of ECEbot-based experiments in upper division ECE courses. This project will develop specific experiments (learning modules) for use in EE 206, 262, 317, 371, and the senior elective courses. This will be a highly sustainable project because the new experiments will be integrated into required courses in the regular MSU electrical and computer engineering curriculum The hands-on experience with microcontroller-based systems is a stepping-stone for on-campus student involvement with the MSU Space Science and Engineering Laboratory and related aerospace research programs.
|Electrical & Computer Engineering Department|
|Montana State University|
|Bozeman, MT 59717|