Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



With self-driving vehicles, college campus food delivery, or even automated home vacuuming systems, robotics is undoubtedly becoming more prevalent in everyday society and it can be expected to continue with time. While many people are owners, users, or even just spectators of theses robotic products or services, there seems to be a negative perception of robotics that poses an intimidation factor regarding the attempt to understand the ideas driving technology. This perception tends to view robotics as machines that require rich education to understand the complexity and interworkings of, thus attempts understand the field are neglected.

To combat this line of thinking, I have set out to break down concepts of robotics to satisfy the basic understanding of an individual from an untrained background. To do this, I have developed a lesson plan that teaches fundamental principles behind robotics and I have developed a beginner-level autonomous navigation project that participants can do to prove their newfound understanding. From the lesson plan aspect, participants are introduced to electronics, mechanical design, and various programming techniques. When the participant attempts the autonomous navigation project, the individual interacts with a pre-built robot and the focus is on developing ideas of how to program the robot to navigate a unidirectional hallway system in which the robot is able to autonomously travel through system of irregular turns. Participants actively test their understanding through application of their programming ideas to the robot.

The inspiration for this project stems from my personal experience with secondary education and my experience as I transitioned into further education, but more iii specifically, the lack of direction individuals similar to me had through these experiences. I come from a part of my city that is known for having a much smaller base of financial resources and is also often perceived to be lesser in terms of educational quality. While my place of secondary education partnered with the local technical school to provide an opportunity to take a robotics course, few were able to take advantage of this opportunity. Other than this singular opportunity off campus, there were few other known opportunities within our school to help individuals find interests in STEM based fields and few opportunities that pointed in alternative directions to STEM fields. Unless one had a relative in a field, most individuals were left directionless as to what they may want to do as a future career or what they may want to study if college was an option.

As an individual who attended college as a guess as to what to do next with life, selecting a major was also a blind throw at a dart board. The decision on my major was between creative writing and engineering, two very different subjects and if it were not for the simple ideas that I had already advanced through a couple of the beginning engineering math courses and my liking of the idea of “building things,” I would have chosen writing. Even so, the handful of my high school class graduates who also chose engineering had little idea of any differentiation between the disciplines and still barely knew what engineering as a whole was, thus we all chose different disciplines and hoped for the best. Simplication of Robotics Through Autonomous Navigation was created to give learning opportunities to individuals who lack such opportunity and have interest in fields related to robotics, yet may also lack comfort to associate with the field.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Mark Cambron, Ph.D., PE


Artificial Intelligence and Robotics | Education | Engineering