Paper Robot: A Design Activity to Increase Beginner’s Prototyping Confidence with Microcontrollers

Year: 2015
Editor: Amaresh Chakrabarti, Toshiharu Taura and Yukari Nagai
Author: Analytis, S.; Sadler, J.; Cutkosky, M. R.
Institution: 1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
Section: Creativity Supporting Tools
Page(s): 200-208
ISBN: 978-1-904670-60-5


This paper describes a creative design activity to introduce engineering students to mechatronic prototyping. Our goal was to find a creative task to increase student confidence and skills in mechanical design, electrical circuits, microcontrollers, and programming. We present the Paper Robot exercise, a design activity that blends everyday materials such as cardboard, with electronic components. This activity was introduced during the 2010-2011 academic year, and has been repeated every year since, in a global, industry-sponsored design course at Stanford University. The Paper Robot exercise resulted from the observation that students were intimidated to create functional prototypes with microcontrollers. The teaching team needed a way to quickly introduce tools for programming electronic components and to encourage creative experimentation early in the course. Results include a 100% task performance rate of students that successfully made a robot meeting the minimum requirements. 76% of students reported an increase in knowledge in programming microcontrollers (Arduino), and 69% increased their knowledge in creating electronic circuits out of raw components. This activity may be modified to introduce younger students to mechatronic platforms in STEM education curriculum.

Keywords: Rapid Prototyping, Interaction Design, Electronics Toolkits


Please sign in to your account

This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyse your use of our products and services, assist with our promotional and marketing efforts, and provide content from third parties. Privacy Policy.