Teaching Mechatronic Engineers how to build intelligent machines

Teaching Mechatronic Engineers
how to build intelligent machines
at Curtin University of Technology,
Perth, Western Australia (1995-2006)
Students & Projects supervised by
Dr Sam Cubero, PhD, BE Mech (Hons)
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.mech-eng.curtin.edu.au/staff.cfm
(most of these slides are actually playable movies)
To describe & demonstrate important types of
tools & technologies useful to machine designers,
automation engineers & control specialists
To show many different kinds of interesting &
fascinating inventions, robots & tools that can be
used to solve a variety of real world problems
To highlight very low cost projects designed &
built by engineering students at Curtin University
of Technology, Perth, Australia, from 1998-2005.
Describe Problem Based Learning (PBL) to help
most Mechatronic Engineering students become
their own best teachers; creative & effective at
finding, solving or even identifying problems.
What is mechatronics engineering?
Example of a mechatronic engineering project
Mechatronics at Curtin University (Australia)
Mechanical design (with CAD & CAM)
Manufacturing & automation systems
Software design & data communications
Electric, pneumatic & hydraulic actuators
Sensors, machine vision & laser measurement
Mobile vehicles, field robotics, flying robots
Handy tips for Problem Based Learning (PBL)
What is mechatronics engineering?
As the name suggests, mechatronics combines certain
skills from mechanical and electronics engineering.
Definition: Mechatronics is the science & practice of
designing, building, controlling and communicating
with devices, machines and automation systems that
move or control physical variables; it involves deep
understanding & skill to control physical variables such
as position, tilt, speed, flow rate, timing, temperature,
force, torque, pressure, current, volts, data signals, etc.
It is a multidisciplinary applied science requiring a wide
range of knowledge & skills in the fields of: machine
design, materials, load & stress analysis, robotics,
manufacturing, electronics, microcontrollers, PC
programming, motion control & mathematics.
What do mechatronics engineers do?
Mechatronics engineers are presented with
different types of automation and control
problems to solve – sometimes this requires
design or prototyping of machines & control
systems that have never been built before.
They must be highly knowledgeable, hard
working & imaginative in order to conceive &
achieve successful, low-cost solutions.
He/she needs to have a highly “connective”,
curious & creative mind, (working “hands on”
with development tools and building
hardware) in order to turn ideas into reality! 5
What do mechatronics engineers do?
1st and foremost, mechatronics engineers use their ideas,
skills, knowledge & tools to control variables and solve
many types of automation and motion control problems by
developing new hardware, software and/or controllers.
What is control? What does motion control involve?
Definition: Control involves making variable(s) adopt
certain value(s) that you want in order to achieve goals.
eg. We want variable x to reach a target value quickly!
Actual value measured by sensor x , Velocity = dx/dt = v
Target value = Reference = Desired value you set = xt
+ Error = What you want to minimise = xe = xt – x
+ Force = F = KP xe – KD v : Simple PD law serves to
drive an actuator (which can change or ⇑ or ⇓ x ) so that
xe can be minimized towards zero as quickly as possible.6
PART 1 (1 hour)
Mechanical Design & Manufacturing
Designing & building new & useful products
and hardware from raw materials
State-of-the-art 3D CAD/CAM/CAE
software: eg. Inventor, MasterCAM,
SolidWorks, ANSYS, CosmosWorks
CNC Milling/Lathe turning, 3D Printing
Example of a Mechatronic Eng Project:
STIC Insect, by Sam Cubero (1994-97)
Designed with AutoCADTM
Pneumatic actuator (position control)
Pneumatic steering joint for a robot leg
Knee joint flexing
STIC Insect robot standing up
STIC Insect robot crouching lower
STIC Insect robot (natural) instability
STIC Insect Leg control testing
STIC Insect robot simulation in 3D
3D Simulation demonstration
STIC Insect robot in a forward walk gait
STIC Insect walking robot (first steps)
STIC Insect clinging to ceiling
Mechatronics at Curtin University
The Department of Mechanical Engineering at
Curtin University currently manages a highly
successful Mechatronic engineering degree
program that prepares students for solving almost
any type of machine design, motion control &
automation problem imaginable.
Curtin University Mechatronics students spend
much of their time working on real world
problems; using state-of-the-art hardware &
software development tools and learning useful
techniques which can be applied in industry
Emphasis is on developing practical skills while
promoting creative, independent thinking ability
Mechatronics at Curtin University
So far, about 95% of our graduate students have
been able to find suitable work within 6 months
after their graduation; student enrolments have
more than doubled in numbers over 10 years
The knowledge, experience and skills of our
mechatronic engineering academic staff,
developed through much hard work, tenacity &
perseverance, places us in an excellent position
to conduct new & innovative “world first”
research in almost any area of mechatronics.
The following slides show examples of typical
Mechatronic projects & research (1998-2005)
and actual teaching assignments & projects. 22
Mechanical design (with CAD & CAM)
AutoCADTM (2D drawing & 3D), parametric
solid modelling with AutoDesk InventorTM
Selecting fits, Dimensioning & tolerancing
Material properties, stress analysis, FEA,
beam design & analysis, combined loading &
failure analysis, design against fatigue failure
& buckling, power transmission design,
roller/ball bearings, vibration, dynamics,
statics, kinematics, robot inverse kinematics
CAD/CAM (eg. MasterCAM) toolpath
generation & CNC machining with multi-axis
mill & lathe, manufacturing processes
Mechanical design (with CAD & CAM)
2nd year Engineering Graphics 321 (12.5 cp) 12 weeks
Syllabus: AutoCAD 2D & 3D solid modelling,
Microsoft Word (Drawing Tool, Equation Editor) &
Excel (Charts); Eng. drawing, dimensioning, fits,
tolerancing standards, tolerance loop analysis; Intro
to 3D Inventor solid modelling & MasterCAM
Weekly teaching pattern: 2 hour lecture & 3 hour
AutoCAD lab; all drawing skills are demonstrated
Assessments: 10 x 2D drawings, 5 x 3D drawings,
Semester-long 3D design project as a User Manual +
detail drawings (Design report on a 2 degree-offreedom device/machine to perform a useful task; no
fewer than 7 unique & necessary components) 24
Engineering Graphics 321 project
Example: 2 dof Dual-spring spear launcher
Example project
concept & model
by Sam Cubero,
created using
AutoCAD 2002
Engineering Graphics 321 project example
View showing launcher carriage fully retracted
by purple hydraulic extension cylinder
Example: 2 dof Dual-spring spear launcher
3rd angle orthographic views & 3D view
Trigger mechanism locked on piston (wireframe)
Release mechanism for launching spear
Back of spear
Mechanical design (with CAD & CAM)
InventorTM model of Bossong welding robot
Mechanical design (with CAD & CAM)
Animation of X-axis assembly, Peter Sotiroski, Curtin University 2002
Mechanical design (with CAD & CAM)
Assembly procedure animated by Inventor
Mechanical design (with CAD & CAM)
Pie-making machine showing operation
Hardwired sequential control circuit
Pneumatic control circuit for sequence control
Mechanical design (with CAD & CAM)
Many exams & assignments are based on real world
hardware; eg. Chairlift transmission design: select a
suitable motor, safe tube section & do failure analysis
Mechanical design (with CAD & CAM)
3rd year Mechanical Design 335 (25 cp); 12 weeks
Syllabus: Force & Moment equilibrium analysis for 2D/3D
loads acting on a free body diagram; basic eng. material
properties (stress/strain), stress states (uniaxial, biaxial),
beam theory, SFD, BMD, Von Mises & FEA yield analysis,
combined loading, fatigue failure, deflection (M/EI), shaft
design, buckling failure, roller/ball bearings, weld analysis,
motor/actuator selection based on force/torque & reflected
inertia calculations, common machine components &
manufacturing processes, dimensioning/tolerancing fits
Weekly teaching: 2 hour lecture & 2 hour tutorial
Assessments: Semester-long design project (1 dof
mechanism per team member) + 3 hour final Exam
Deflection &
Stress Analysis
using ANSYS
Manufacturing & automation systems
Mechatronics also involves the manufacture or
prototyping of machines and automation systems.
Mechanical & Manufacturing lecturers are skilled in
the following areas & even teach these topics…
Manufacturing & machine-shop processes: Lathe
turning, milling, metrology, precision grinding,
tapping/threading, boring, drilling, sheet bending,
oxy & arc welding (MMAW, MIG), soldering, PCB
design & manufacture, foundry practices, casting,
mould & pattern making, plastics manufacturing,
PM, STL, 3D printing, CAM, CFRP, ceramics, etc.
If students don’t know how to manufacture a part,
they have little chance of designing it properly! 38
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
MasterCAMTM toolpaths for CNC machining
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
MasterCAMTM toolpaths for CNC machining
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
Actual products created using MasterCAMTM
2D & 2.5D CNC Milling
CNC Lathe example
Beer bottle opener
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
MasterCAMTM toolpaths for CNC machining
block milling
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
Examples of products that can be
designed & milled out using CAM
Steel V-block
Turned Steel
Plumb bob
3D surface milling
example: contouring,
pocketing, projected
letters & engraving;
designed in MasterCAM
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
2D construction sketches are
positioned accurately in 3D.
Centre hub is a simple revolution
of a half section (closed area),
with holes & countersinks added.
Sharp edges are removed by
localised filleting of edges and
curves. MasterCAM analyses
model & generates toolpaths
based on tools user specifies.
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
2D construction geometry is created
for 1 “spoke”, lofts & sweeps are
used to create the solid, then the 4
other spokes are copied in a polar
array. Rim is a simple revolution.
Block is chosen, 2
roughing cuts, 1
finishing cut and 1
final pencilling cut
to sharpen edges.
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
Actual wheel pattern modelled
& machined by MasterCAM46
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
Complex 3D solids can be
modelled using extrusions,
“Coon” surfaces, sweeps,
lofts and revolved shapes.
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
Comfortable, custom fitted
face masks are made using
plastic formed by machined
moulds. eg. to keep faces of
cancer patients very still
during radiation treatment to
kill brain tumors/cancers.
3D Laser Scanned face in
STL format for machining a
mould on a CNC milling
machine; vacuum forming is
used to force hot soft
plastic sheet over mould.
Courtesy of Bob Gilbert & Sir
Charles Gardner Hospital,
Perth, Western Australia
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
Face mask is made in 40 minutes rather
than 1 day using conventional plaster
Mask & holes for
eyes, nostrils &
mouth are cut out
Patients are spared from uncomfortable &
slow plastering procedures; scanning is fast!
Most 3D CAD software can
export STL file formats for
importing into MasterCAM
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
SolidWorks & 3D Printing (courtesy of InterCAD)
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
Robot hand designed with SolidWorks & created with a 3D Printer
Manufacturing (with CAD & CAM)
Robot hand designed with SolidWorks & created with a 3D Printer
Printed Circuit Board design & manufacture
17 Downloader & Serial communications boxes for the
Mechatronics Studio to optoisolate & protect lab PCs
Accessory board
PCB design & manufacture
Designed on ProtelTM CAD software
Double-sided PCB for AVR 8535: w/ 8
ADCs, 3 timers/counters, 2 PWM,
UART, Flash ROM, 40 I/O pins
Useful for many control applications
Motor driver circuit
PART 2 (2 hours)
Actuators, Controllers & Sensors
PLCs, PC computer control, microcontrollers
Common software programming languages &
useful hardware & software tools for control
(open & closed-loop) & data communications
Actuators (electric, pneumatic, hydraulic),
controllers (hardwired or programmable),
sensors (proximity, vision, laser range-finders)
Hints & tips for achieving impressive learning
outcomes & skills development through PBL 57
Manufacturing & automation systems
eg. PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) system:
FESTOTM STL “Statement List”, Ladder diagram &
SCADA are used to control modular pick-and-place
robots & pneumatic/hydraulic actuators, monitor
sensor status and respond to control button inputs
Software design & data communications
Curtin Mechatronics engineering students are
exposed to modern software & development
tools so they can design useful, real-world
machinery, mechatronic products and systems
eg. Development languages & tools such as:
C/C++, Visual Basic, BASCOM, CodeVision
C, Java, STL, Ladder, Assembly (HC12 &
Atmel AVR), Matlab/Simulink, Labview, etc.
Data communications methods are also used
by students in major projects: USB, Ethernet
TCP/IP, RS-232/422/485, 802.11b/g WiFi,
1394 Firewire, Bluetooth, Devicenet, etc. 59
Software design & data communications
Motion-capture data glove using the HC11
Software design & data communications
Using a PC to read brightness data from a CCD linescan array chip (AVR assembly language & RS-232
MS-Comm control), eg. Mini-vision systems
Reading & analysing serial colour/bw image data
from a 2D CCD camera (using any video source in
Windows, eg. using DirectShow, VB vision DLLs)
TCP/IP (eg. MS-Winsock) & UDP to send data
between any 2 LAN computers (eg.XPort & WiPort)
SCADA, Statement List, Ladder PLC programming
RS232, RS422, RS485/CAN, USB, TCP/IP, UDP,
Bluetooth & 802.11b/g wireless communications etc.
Creating user-friendly “GUIs” (Graphical User
Interfaces) for intuitive PC control, using QBasic,
Turbo C, Matlab, Visual Basic or C++, .NET, Delphi
Electric, pneumatic & hydraulic actuators
Students are shown real-world examples of openloop & closed-loop control systems, PID software
programming (numerical non-linear), adaptive
control, state space representation; mathematical
modelling & computer simulation methods are used
to simulate & control position, speed, force, etc.
The same principles of feedback control can be
applied to almost any type of actuator (pneumatic,
electric or hydraulic) & those not even invented yet!
Mechatronic Automation 321 class requires all
students to write their own dynamic computer
graphics simulation to control the position, velocity
and force of a pneumatic piston using a realistic
model; theory & methods were developed by John
Billingsley & Sam Cubero during 1994-1997.
Real-time air cylinder simulation
Real-time air cylinder simulation
Hydrobug: 6-legged & 4-wheeled robot
Walking & driving
simulations prove
this design to be
technically feasible
& controllable as a
passenger vehicle
Feet can be placed automatically
if surface geometry is known
Hydrobug: 6-legged & 4-wheeled robot
Hydraulic circuit for controlling 18 independent cylinders & 4 motors
of the Hydrobug (1 leg was built & is now under computer control)
20 hp Petrol
Engine prime
Steering control simulation for Hydrobug
2D Visual Basic simulation by Mr Richard Thien, 4th year student, Curtin
Hydraulics for a 6-legged walking robot
Electric actuators
DC motors (powered by Darlington drivers,
MOSFETS, relays, etc) & linear lead-screws
Stepper motors, unipolar & micro-steppers
AC motors (with Allen BradleyTM industrial
motion controller; encoders/resolvers, etc)
Patent-pending Electro-Magnetic Actuated
Piston (EMAP), a direct-drive variableposition/velocity/force computer controlled
linear actuator (under development)
SMA: Shape Memory Alloy actuators
Radiation pressure (& ionic wind) engines
Flying aircraft built at Curtin University
QTAR: Quad Thrust Aerial Robot: can control direction, hover height,
pitch, roll, translation forwards/back/left/right; is battery powered &
carries a wireless video camera – built & programmed in 2005 by
Joshua Portlock & Brett Hammil; Project supervisor: Dr Sam Cubero
The QTAR is easier
to fly and control & is
cheaper to make than
the commercial
“Dragonflyer” quadrotor aerial robot.
QTAR uses unique
adaptive control
algorithms based on
feedback sensors to
maintain stability.
Total cost AUD$800
Flying aircraft built at Curtin University
Sensors, machine vision & measurement
Industrial proximity sensors (on-off type); eg. inductive,
capacitive, optical, magnetic, air, switches (reed,
mechanical), Hall Effect, Ultrasonic sensors, etc
Variable analogue, digital & frequency output sensors
(eg. sensors for measuring position, angular rotation/
tilt, acceleration, force/torque/stress/pressure, gas or
liquid flowrate, temperature, light intensity, ultra-sonic
transcievers) with interfacing & ADC/data capture
circuitry for computers/micros
Machine vision: Line-scan or 2D array CCD cameras
with software & image control & analysis, pattern
recognition & identification, 3D scanning with a stripe
1D distance measurement & 2D or 3D laser scanning
(using the SICK LMS rangefinder)
SPI – Straying Prevention Indicator
Driver fatigue & lane departure alarm
Machine vision with 1D line-scan camera
Machine vision with 1D line-scan camera
All image processing is performed
on-board via a microcontroller
chip, which also controls steering
Speed & steering is
automatically controlled
based on image data.
Image data can also be
monitored on a PC
screen (optional feature)
Machine vision using 2D camera
Machine vision: Object tracking
Machine vision: Road edge detection
Artificial Neural
Weights are trained based on road
edge data obtained from video images
taken during human training mode.
Robot controller imitates how a
human drives based on vision data.
Image analysis & object identification
Vision system can recognize 3 different hand gestures (rock,
paper & scissors) & distinguish the difference between them
S-Psi edge graph
Can be used for
hand gesture
recognition &
pointing devices.
Software designed for Windows XP by
Harvarinder Singh & Dr S Cubero 2006
Software can be
modified to
identify almost
any closed shape
Genetic Algorithm for a 2-legged robot to
learn how to crawl efficiently (Caleb Paget)
3D Laser scanner built at Curtin
Examples of 3D
images using a
scanner built at
Curtin University
Mechatronics labs
Automated soil hardness testing machine
controller for mining & drilling operations
Automated soil hardness testing machine
controller for mining & drilling operations
Automated soil hardness testing machine
controller for mining & drilling operations
Mobile vehicles & field robotics
Examples of projects built by Curtin Uni students:
Remote controlled grape harvester - operational
Remote controlled, wireless mine detection & video
surveillance robot using Bluetooth - operational
Wireless communications systems for road vehicles &
“smart traffic sign” safety systems - operational
QTAR aerial VTOL (Vertical Take Off & Landing)
flying robot – now operational under remote control
CARbot line-scan camera guided robot - operational
VIC 2D-vision-guided ANN robot car - operational
Hydrobug 6-legged walking & wheeled passenger
carrying robot (1 leg operational, work in progress!) 87
Mobile vehicles & field robotics
2003-2004: CARbot mobile robot racing contest
(racing against the clock on a closed loop track),
involving manual control of speed & steering
2005: CARbot box-grabbing competition, where up
to 4 players manually control their robot to collect as
many boxes as possible on an obstacle course and
return the boxes to their bases, within a time of 3
minutes (Story shown in local newspaper)
2006: Robot wars & robot sumo! 2 minute news
story featured nationwide on Channel 10 News
2007 & beyond: Walking robots, exoskeleton robots
for enhancing human strength & speed, farm robots
for herding & mustering animals in a field
Example of a Problem Based Learning Unit
2nd year Mechatronic Project 234 (12.5 cp); 12 weeks
Syllabus: Binary number system review, ASCII codes,
procedural programming, variable data types & storage
limitations, program flow control, decision making &
comparison tests, downloading compiled software code, bidirectional serial communications with the AVR (UART,
MAX232, RS232), regulated power supply, optoisolation &
current protection, reading/writing I/O pins, using LEDs,
relays, timers/counters, interrupts, ADC, PWM, DC &
stepper motors, H-bridge motor drivers, LCDs, matrix
keypads, DAC, Darlington Driver, steering & speed control
Weekly teaching pattern: 1 hour lecture & one 3 hour lab
Assessments: 8 labs to develop skills in using an AVR
microcontroller, CARbot contest & Final report on CARbot89
CARbot 2003/2004
Race against clock & finish
1 lap of the racetrack to get
the fastest time! Students
design, build & program
their own robot controller
CARbot competition 2003 & 2004
Fastest time to complete 1 entire lap wins! If all 4 wheels leave the white
track, “Speed Score” = 0. Students work in pairs & compete…
“Completion Score = (No. zones completed/8 ) * 20%” (max 8 zones);
“Speed Score = (No. robots–Rank+1) / (No. robots) * 20% (maximum)
TOTAL MARK (40%) =
Completion Score +
Speed Score
Students must submit a
complete design report
describing their robot’s
electronic circuit design,
control scheme, control
algorithms, guidance
sensors & software
Robotic box collecting contest 2005
3 or 4 robots race against the
clock to collect the most boxes!
Students design & build their own hardware
2nd year Problem Based Learning unit
Mechatronic Project 234: teams of 2 students work on designing the
mechanical gripper/box-holder, electronics & control software
Collect the most boxes within 3
minutes to win! (like these 2)
Return boxes to your base area
CARbot competition 2005
Robotic arm for an electric scooter
Used for picking up & retrieving
products on high supermarket
shelves, to aid the elderly & infirm
Final year project of Mr Nyan Naung
Project supervised by
Dr Sam Cubero, 2005
RARE: Remote Area Robotic Explorer
Wireless remote controlled mobile robot can detect presence of land
mines & send back live video images from camera on a 360° rotating
platform. The digital video can be saved as movies on a PC.
Controlled with
Bluetooth ™
wireless radio
Front arm swivels left & right holding a
metal detector monitored by an AVR
Project by Nishant D’Souza & KC Anyaegbu. Supervisor: Dr S Cubero96
Problem Based Learning at Curtin Uni
To help students become effective, independent learners
and thinkers; able to plan, investigate, discover & think
creatively so they can contribute new, useful knowledge
To create an environment that stimulates creative
thinking & independent problem solving by students,
with minimal supervision effort by a lecturer/instructor
To challenge & develop the creativity & problem solving
abilities of students in a fun, engaging way, so students
will like their work & enjoy doing it!
Problem Based Learning at Curtin Uni
Lab work/assignments are based on a project or problem
Lectures should be as easy-to-understand as possible using
simple descriptions, relevant examples & sample code or
methods they can use or modify for their project
Learning should be applied quickly & practical results
must be seen in labs ASAP in same week as the lecture!
Students test their own ideas & experience the act of
discovery & problem solving on their own, without help
Students should be allowed to solve their own problems &
even design & plan their own strategies or experiments
If students understand WHY they are doing what they are
doing & believe that it is useful and helpful to their careers,
they will be keen to keep up to date & work hard!
Problem Based Learning philosophies
The goal of PBL is not to program students with lots of
information but to guide students by example! Provide the
basic concepts, information sources & tools, then let
students form their own mental connections & formulate
relationships between important variables while working
towards clearly defined project goals/objectives in labs.
Students appreciate & remember things best via hands-on
discovery, not by being told what to do! Spoon feeding
students with all the answers is pointless because that
only encourages students to be very dependent on you for
information & solutions. Let them think for themselves!
Software & hardware always become obsolete or updated
so students must learn how to learn & adapt to changes!
Each student must learn from mistakes & practice asking
the right questions which may lead to the right answers! 99
Useful tips for Problem Based Learning
Students learn & appreciate what works & what doesn’t
work! There is usually only enough time in lectures to
show what does work & not enough time to show what is
wrong with bad designs or methods, thus labs are needed!
Mechatronic engineers spend much of their time running
many tests on new designs in order to fully understand &
discover everything that can possibly fail. Students must
learn how to find & fix problems & errors themselves by
testing all possible inputs & outputs & the behaviour of
every component in the system or software they designed.
If a circuit, software code or design does not work as
expected, students will do everything in their power to fix
it, if they can see that their peers have succeeded. Most
students will make it a matter of personal pride to succeed!
Useful tips for Problem Based Learning
Set small goals in labs that are attainable for even the lowest
achievers (50%-65% Course Weighted Average, or nonhonours students); make all lab tasks as SIMPLE and easy to
complete as possible and ensure they see useful results!
Avoid setting tasks that are too complex or too time
consuming (failure to complete set tasks may discourage)
Labs should allow students to build useful things that work!
Tell students in advance about common problems they might
experience in labs & their remedies; eg. check wire
connections/poor contacts, power supply, wrong polarity etc
Urge students to carefully test each & every small feature or
component or bit of software code added to the system to
minimize unexpected errors & save much debugging time!101
Many students will not like PBL at first!
Many students who are not used to thinking for themselves
or learning on their own will find PBL to be a big shock!
Creativity & imagination are not “taught” or “assessed” in
most University-level engineering degree courses!
SEEQ (Student Evaluation of Education Quality) surveys
show that students valued the PBL subjects more than other
subjects, however, the majority believed the PBL subjects
were less “organised” than conventional textbook-based
“follow the procedure” subjects, despite all necessary
information being given to them 1 week before each lab.
Moral of the story: No pain, no gain! Students experience
creative “brain pain” because they are forced to organise &
study data-sheets, sample code and circuits & solve many lab
problems on their own , without a complete solution or
correct answer to copy & no guarantee of success in the labs
Problem Based Learning at Curtin Uni
Students are better at learning on their own and solving
problems on their own, better able to learn & apply new
information quickly & effectively. (This will help them in
their future careers because hardware & software
technology keeps getting updated with newer products)
PBL allows students the chance to learn from their own
mistakes, affording them the opportunity to engage in
“problem identification” & trouble-shooting activities,
requiring some technical “detective work” & creative
questioning to solve problems not found in textbooks!
Students begin thinking like innovators, inventors and real
scientists & researchers, capable of discovering and
applying new knowledge, technologies and new ideas.
Students all learn to organize disorganized information.
Handy Problem Solving Philosophies
To solve problems efficiently, try to think QUICKER:
Questions/goals must be defined: Know what you want!
Understand relevant objects or variables: their purpose,
behaviour, inputs/outputs & limits. Study & observe them
carefully, run experiments & become familiar with them!
Imagine relationships between these objects or variables,
but do not believe in untested assumptions. Test all ideas!
Choose the simplest solution & SMILE (because Simple
Makes It Lots Easier) – Fewer things to go wrong! Less
effort & stress! Don’t bother learning irrelevant things!
Keep an open mind & consider the advice of experts!
Examine all the advantages & disadvantages of all your
options but do not believe in untested assumptions!
Results come from action & persistent effort, not excuses
Thanks for listening… Any questions?
For more information or to give feedback, please contact:
Dr Sam Cubero, WARCAMP secretary, www.warcamp.net
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Building 204, Rm 525
Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, Western Australia
Tel: (08) 9266 7047 Mail: GPO Box U1987 Perth 6845
or talk to one of our Mechatronic Engineering lecturers:
Euan, Graham, Brad or Sam ( [email protected] )
Staff website: www.mech-eng.curtin.edu.au/staff.cfm
© 2006 Copyright Samuel N. Cubero, www.sunsetstudios.com.au and Curtin
University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia. All rights reserved.
Material from this presentation must not be copied, rented, edited, broadcasted in
public or used by other teaching institutes or teachers, without the written & signed
permission of the copyright owner (Samuel N. Cubero, Australia).