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ENGR 150 Micromouse Robots at The University of Scranton

ENGR/PHYS 150 (FYOC, FYDT) Foundations of Physics and Engineering was developed as the physics and engineering cornerstone course covering foundational topics including science and information literacy, basic computer programming, micro-processing, and professional ethical standards. After completing the course, the student progresses toward proficiency in oral communication skills and the use of digital technology through assignments and projects relevant to the physicist and engineer.

The structure for the new course allowed for many of the old Freshman Seminar outcomes to continue (students getting to know each other and the faculty, forming a cohort, etc.) but also allowed the students to see the engaging side of engineering and physics their very first semester. The course also meets the First Year Digital Technology (FYDT) and First Year Oral Communication (FYOC) EP requirements. This course reduced the total credit load on engineering majors by three credits.

The final project in the course involves the students programming a Micromouse robot to solve a maze identically to the competition held at IEEE regional student activities conferences (SAC). A class competition is held and the winning team(s) represent the University of Scranton at the IEEE Region 2 SAC in the Micromouse kit competition. This class competition has turned into an immersive experience for the students.

Designed by students, the University of Scranton Micromouse Robot Kit uses a Raspberry Pi for control along with a custom circuit board interfacing digital distance sensors, DC motors, and digital encoders.

Students who win the ENGR 150 course Micromouse competition are invited to compete at the IEEE Region 2 SAC each spring as first year students.

The Micromouse Robot must autonomously solve a maze composed of a 256 unit squares by starting in a designated corner and traversing to the center four squares.

One popular algorithm used to solve the maze is called a "flooding" algorithm. The mouse must keep track of where its been in the maze always trying to get closer to the "0" squares by randomly guessing its way through the maze.

First Year students in the course have done well since ENGR 150's conception, placing 1st, 2nd, and then 1st place in the Micromouse Kit competition over the past 3 years. This is the 1st place Micromouse Kit Team from the 2017 IEEE Region 2 SAC.

Every engineering student takes the ENGR 150 course and gains valuable experience as a first year student.

The Micromouse robot has gone through many revisions over the past few years. One constant feature of every mouse is the communication system. Students communicate with the Micromouse by connecting wirelessly to a unique network broadcasted by the Raspberry Pi.

The Micromouse Competition isn't the only competition Scranton partiicpates in when they attend the IEEE Region 2 SAC. This past year 25 Scranton students attended the SAC taking home 5 awards, the most of any Region 2 School.

Created By
Nicholas Truncale
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