The TekBots program takes learning beyond theory, allowing students to apply their knowledge of electrical and computer engineering to create their own robot. As they progress through the program students add more functions to their TekBot.
In an introductory class, students build their own TekBot that navigates by sensors to detect obstacles. In a later assembly language class they modify their TekBot to be controlled remotely. Students are inspired by the creative possibilities of the TekBots and have created robots that can walk on four appendages, or balance on two wheels. The TekBot competition in May at the Engineering Expo is additional motivation for students to create something new.
The TekBots program:
- Integrates courses in the curriculum
- Enhances lecture and lab understanding
- Creates a sense of personal ownership and pride
- Extends to a variety of disciplines
- Emulates professional practice in the real-world
- Promotes flexible and effective innovation
Students have contributed to every aspect of the program from its inception. All of the labs and materials have been designed by undergraduate students. The teaching assistants for the TekBot labs are juniors and seniors.
"It creates a culture where they are helping each other,” said Don Heer, instructor for the TekBots program.
Katy Humble, who was one of the first students to help develop the kits, attributed the experience she gained in the TekBots program with helping her land a job at Intel.
“TekBots is all about debugging something that doesn’t work. It’s a constant problem in industry,” Humble said.
An original Oregon State program seed-funded by Tektronix in 2000, TekBots has also received support from the National Science Foundation. Other universities across the nation and in Japan have purchased the TekBot kits to be used for their engineering instruction.
More details can be found at the TekBots website.