2012 UNLV Biorobotics Short Course
In summer 2012, Drs. David Lee, Mohamed Trabia, and Woosoon Yim taught an intensive summer short course in biorobotics. This course was an extraordinary challenge wherein students designed, built, and controlled their own robots in a single week – an effort that usually takes months or even an entire year. The unifying theme of these diverse designs was a biologically inspired interaction of the robot with its environment through force sensing, which is a timely challenge given the increasing need for dexterous robotic manipulation and locomotion in space.
Students initially explored biomechanical principles in the Laboratory of Comparative Biomechanics then built and tested robots of their own design in the Mendenhall Innovation Laboratory at UNLV. They also toured Pololu Robotics – a major robotics company based in Las Vegas, NV, where they observed laser cutting of their own custom robot parts and learned about Pololu products and employment.
Planning, preparation and teaching UNLV’s first Biorobotics Short Course was a fruitful cross-disciplinary collaboration between faculty of the School of Life Sciences and the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UNLV. As a result, this course strongly emphasized the application of STEM principles through exploration of biological and physical fundaments combined with hands-on robot design, building, and testing. Five UNLV undergraduate students (including three from underrepresented minority groups) in the Colleges of Science and Engineering completed this weeklong course in 2012: Mark Burger, Alexander Goya, Jorge Jimenez-Marquez, Maria Ramos, and Francisco Vargas.