Project Examples

FIRST Robotic Competition

Course: 22.423 - Capstone
Semester: Spring 2006
Instructor: Sammy Shina
Partner:Lowell High School (LHS), and FIRST Competition at Whitinsville Christian High School

Partnership Description: This S-L partnership represents a collaboration between UML, the FIRST Competition and Whitinsville Christian High School since 2001. The FIRST Robot program with high schoolers linked with UML S-L students in which students acted as ambassadors to the local high school to work with high schoolers around robotics designs. This program has been in been in place and under continued improvement over the last four years. Students performed independent design work and participated in team efforts to develop conceptual designs from functional requirements. Students performed design analysis and synthesis, modeling, fabrication, testing, cost estimating, and documented the essential elements of the system design.

Project Description: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotic Competition: To design, manufacture and provide support for a working robot, which was then entered into the FIRST competition. FIRST is a nationwide robotic competition for high school students interested in the mathematics and science. The UML team of 3 students worked with students from the Whitinsville Christian High School throughout the entirety of the project for a total of 20 people involved. The robot was completed on time and within budget robot performed very well through the competition with only minor adjustments. It placed 13th out of 52 teams at the FIRST Granite State Regional in Manchester New Hampshire.

Learning objectives met by the s-l project:

  • Exercise technical communication skills by having the UML students produce a final report and presentations to other students in class using Microsoft office tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Project).
  • Interact and communicate with high school students, their mentors, as well as with their advisor and laboratory and machine shop managers at UML.
  • Learn about teamwork, working with younger students, project management and delivering a complex project on time and within budget
  • Apply engineering and design ethical standards in design, taking data, analysis and performing their duties as prescribed
  • Utilize safety in making their robot work very safe, as well as making sure that the highs school students worked in safe environment when assembling or operating the robot. All of the parts were designed by the UML project team and manufactured in the UML machine shop by the supervision, of the shop manager, and all safety procedures were followed in operating the machines.
  • Research multi-disciplinary issues of motors and gears, controllers, computers and software, as well as explaining these issues to the high school students.
  • Become familiar with codes used by industry in the design and manufacture of high technology and robotic products, as well as safety and environmental codes.

Community objectives met by the project:

  • Advancement and interest of high school students in Math, Science and Engineering careers and topics.
  • A completed and operating Robot was delivered to the high school student to train for operating the robot in competition. The robot design met all requirements of the high school design team and the robot competition rules in weight, power and steering.
  • The project was closely linked with the high school students, who were involved in the conceptual design of the robot, as well as operation the robot in competition. The high school students were motivated into careers of math, science and engineering. There were a good percentage of women represented on the high school project team.

Evidence of positive results for students:

  • UML Students were motivated for the project and undertook several trips to the high school to discuss with their students and mentors regarding details of the project
  • UML Students were always willing extra hours and extend themselves towards the completion of the project on time and with budget
  • UML Students completed a major report and presentations to their fellow students and professor at the end of the semester.
  • The high school students became very motivated in the design and operation of the robot, as well as increased interest in Math, Science and Engineering.

Positive results for faculty, Sammy Shina:

  • I enjoyed working with this student team, who were very matter of fact and quick to design and implement.
  • I enjoyed working with the FIRST team, they were very professional and safety conscious
  • I became a judge for the regional FIRST competition in Manchester New Hampshire for the 4th year in a row as they requested my services. I volunteered my time and resources for the 2 day competition with no compensation.
  • I enjoyed interacting with other judges, four of whom were professors of other engineering schools who entered teams in the competition.

Positive results for community:

The Whitinsville high school team and their mentors were extremely satisfied with the results of the robot and their performance in the competition. Negative results: There was only one partial failure of the robot. A short section of PVC tube used to maintain proper distance between the two sideboards of the robot was broken. The piece was upgraded to a threaded steel rod for longevity. Faculty were concerned by the amount of time it took for the students to complete the project on time, and its effect on other course of study that they are taking.

Suggestions to make s-l implementation easier and more meaningful:

The UML student team recommended that the UML team work with a high school closer to campus, to facilitate communications and face-to-face meetings with all members of the high school team. Future teams should also reuse many of the design and parts of past robots into future robotic competition both for conservation and meeting deadlines. Very satisfactory project and results to all stakeholders (professor, students, and community partner, Whitinsville High School.)