Using multi-robot systems for engineering education: Teaching and outreach with large numbers of an advanced, low-cost robot

James McLurkin, Joshua Rykowski, Meagan John, Quillan Kaseman, Andrew J. Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Scopus citations


This paper describes the experiences of using an advanced, low-cost robot in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. It presents three innovations: It is a powerful, cheap, robust, and small advanced personal robot; it forms the foundation of a problem-based learning curriculum; and it enables a novel multi-robot curriculum while fostering collaborative team work on assignments. The robot design has many features specific to educators: It is advanced enough for academic research, has a broad feature set to support a wide range of curricula, and is inexpensive enough to be an effective outreach tool. The low cost allows each student to have their own robot for the semester, so they can work on activities outside the classroom. This robot was used in three different classes in which it was the foundation for an innovative problem-based learning curriculum. In particular, the robot has specialized sensors and a communications system that supports novel multi-robot curricula, which encourage student interaction in new ways. The results are promising; the robot was a big success in graduate, undergraduate, and outreach activities. Finally, student assessments indicate a greater interest and understanding of engineering and other STEM majors, and class evaluations were consistently above average.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6363493
Pages (from-to)24-33
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Engineering
  • multi-robot systems
  • outreach
  • problem-based learning
  • robotics education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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