Friday, September 2, 2016

Summer Engineering Institute Freshmen "Break Things Better"

During the 5-week Summer Engineering Institute, incoming electrical engineering majors from primarily fourth and fifth quintile high schools took ECE5: Making, Breaking and Hacking Stuff. The class is held in the EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker Studio and is part of the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering’s Experience Engineering Initiative, aimed at giving every engineering and computer science undergraduate student a hands-on or experiential engineering course or lab each and every year – starting freshman year. 

The course is normally offered during the school year and is 10 weeks long. Students participating in the Summer Engineering Institute completed the course in just 5 weeks by meeting twice as often, with the advantage of a much smaller class size.

The final project in the course required students to program a robot to recognize the difference between black and white so that it could follow a black line drawn on white paper.  Some of the teams incorporated other features from their previous projects while other teams tried new sensors.

“Our students are building things and breaking them down to make them better,” said Truong Nguyen, Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. “That’s the goal of the hands-on curriculum – it’s open-ended so as to allow the students to discover how to make things better.”

“We adjusted the accuracy of tracking using sensors that tell the robot where it is in relation to the line,” said one student, whose robot veered off the track and spun in a circle.

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