Learn Systems Engineering by Building a Robot
Michael Alba posted on February 15, 2018 |
The TI-Robotics System Learning Kit. (Image courtesy of TI.)
The TI-Robotics System Learning Kit. (Image courtesy of TI.)

Texas Instruments has a new offering for engineering education: the TI-Robotics System Learning Kit (TI-RSLK). The kit provides all the hardware necessary to build a functional robotic system, but its real value comes from the complementary curriculum. Developed in partnership with Jon Valvano, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, the TI-RSLK comes complete with a set of 20 educational modules meant to guide students through fundamental systems engineering concepts.

“The ultimate goal of the learning kit is to design, build and test a robot system capable of solving complex tasks,” explained Valvano. “Example challenges you might try are line following, maze exploring and autonomous driving. However, it’s not the final robot that matters, but the educational journey that discovers a wide range of engineering principles in the process.”

Although the TI-RSLK was developed with first-year engineering students in mind, the curriculum is flexible enough to complement a variety of engineering courses spanning multiple disciplines. And you don’t have to be a student to take advantage of the kit—professional engineers might learn a thing or two themselves. For example, mechanical engineers looking to expand their electrical knowledge, or electrical engineers looking to better understand system design, could both benefit from the hands-on education of the TI-RSLK.

The TI-RSLK offers hands-on engineering education. (Image courtesy of element14.)
The TI-RSLK offers hands-on engineering education. (Image courtesy of element14.)

The kit itself, which contains all the components needed to build the robot, comes in two variants: the basic version and the advanced version. The basic version ($99) covers the essentials, and includes the TI SimpleLink MSP432 MCU LaunchPad Development Kit, while the advanced version ($199) adds Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules to the mix to enable wireless communication with your robot. The kits, sold through element14, are entirely a convenience—universities and students can source their own components if they choose, and still make use of the curriculum.

“It’s very comprehensive and contained,” said TI’s Ayesha Mayhugh of the new kit and curriculum. “So the educator can use it in any way which suits their courseware.”

If you’re interested in the TI-RSLK, kits start shipping next week from element14.

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