Senior Pre-Capstone Teams Build Autonomous Robots


This year’s winning robot.

This year’s senior Pre-Capstone teams were tasked with going through an extensive design process to design, build, and test an autonomous robot that could navigate around a predetermined track. This process was designed to mimic a companies design process following the required paperwork, design decisions, CAD, FEA, and ultimately working prototype.

Teams came up with one-off solutions such as 3D printed parts, wireless controlled robots, mechanical steering mechanisms, and an array of custom electrical components. This exercise helped the mechanical engineers broaden their skills and ideas while teaching students how to work through a complicated design process. The winning team as pictured above used a custom cardboard chassis to save on weight and 3D printed guide rails to keep the robot from hanging up on the wall. The team used high torque servo motors as a drive mechanism to maximize the weight they could carry while still remaining relatively fast. The video below shows the second-place team’s mechanical approach that used Legos and motors to quickly move around the track while rubbing against the wall. This team focused on using a simple solution to accomplish the same goal and minimizing design time.

All of the teams did well implementing several different design philosophies to highlight the importance of diverse ideas in engineering.

Below are the robots from other teams.



WindBAG- Pre-Capstone Project

This year, the Pre-Capstone Principles of Engineering Design class is revolved around Project WindBAG, the central semester-long team-based project. This project is designed to provide students with the opportunity to act as junior engineers exploring solutions to a complex, multi-level, and competency-building program.

The students are given a task to design, build and test a system capable of converting wind energy into some more useful form of energy and then storing this energy in some compact, transportable module. The wind source is represented by a household electric fan, and the energy modules must be used to propel a vehicle, carrying as large a payload through as many loops around a track as possible, subject to the restrictions and conditions.

One component of the experience is that the problem revolves around a central narrative. This narrative provides the opportunity to diagram the problem within its complete context, just as problems in the real world exist within particular contexts. This experiential learning provides the basis on which competencies will be further developed.