Project Profile

Goals of the project

Design and build a computer controlled mechanical device that performs a useful real-world task.

Specific objectives were:

  • Combine concepts learned in freshman engineering courses to solve an open-ended problem
  • Practice idea generation skills
  • Learn basics of new things as needed
  • Effectively work in a team to accomplish a goal
  • Experience and deal with design process constraints (time, cost, availability, knowledge, etc)

Nature of the Collaboration

Teams of 3-4 students worked together. There were a total of 12 teams.


The project was based on Arduinos, and programming Arduinos was the main skill. Each team did have to build a physical device that was controlled by the Arduino, so other basic shop skills were used.


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The project was the final team project in a second semester freshman engineering course. The project evolves from semester to semester.


Challenges encountered

Students readily learned the basic Arduino skills, but struggled to put the building blocks together. This process just takes time.

Major outcomes

Each team successfully built a device controlled by the Arduino.

Innovations, impact and successes

Students became engaged in making things. 72% of the students indicated they learned a lot on the project. 56% of the students said they were considering purchasing their own Arduino. 75% said the skills they learned on this project will be useful in the future.