Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

MINDSTORMS Controls Toolkit: Hands-on, project-based learning of controls
by Tse, Susan B., M.S., Tufts University, 2009, 151; 1468281
Abstract (Summary)

Undergraduate controls courses often leave out the hardware validation step of the control design process due to high costs of purchasing, running, and maintaining laboratory equipment. As a result college graduates are skilled in theory, but lack practical hands-on experience that is needed in industry. The goal of this research was to develop an inexpensive, modular, and robust tool that could facilitate the learning of controls. The MINDSTORMS Control Toolkit, composed of the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, LabVIEW NXT Toolkit, Machine Science breadboard starter kit, and RoboBooks, was developed to address the need for accessible yet reliable hardware in controls education. The evaluation of the MINDSTORMS Control Toolkit components consisted of pre- and post-instruction surveys and feasibility test through the creation of RoboBook activities. Of the students who responded to the post-instruction survey, 91.7% (22/24) of the students in the introductory controls class and 90.9% (10/11) of the students in the advanced controls class reported that physical models improved their understanding of theoretical analysis. We observed that the MINDSTORMS Controls Toolkit enhanced the students’ learning experience by making abstract concepts concrete through practical understanding, providing students with an easy and fun way to gain real-world controls experience.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rogers, Chris
Commitee: Berg, Robert, Rife, Jason, White, Robert
School: Tufts University
Department: Mechanical Engineering
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: MAI 48/01M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Mechanical engineering, Educational technology, Robotics
Keywords: Controls education, Educational tools, LEGO MINDSTORMS, Labview, RoboBooks
Publication Number: 1468281
ISBN: 9781109331745
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