My background is in electrical engineering. I have taught robotics to electrical, electronics and CS students. This time I have to teach robotics to mechanical engineering students. How do I keep the interest level high in the class?

I am afraid the concept of programming (microcontrollers), and electronics will lower their interest. But I think programming is a must for them as well.

Any suggestions how to proceed, go in depth, and keep the interest level high? Should there be much difference between the syllabi of the two trades?

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    Does their ME curriculum require them to have had any programming before this? Or is this the students' first exposure? That will largely determine the way you approach the course, but even in either case you should probably expect their ability level to be lower than EE, CE, or CS students. – David Aug 5 '17 at 5:07
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    Are the ME students at your institution required to have exposure to any EE/CS topics that would help them in this robotics course? (At my institution, ME students must take several relevant EE courses, so I would expect those students to be well-prepared for a robotics course, even though we don't offer such a course.) – Mad Jack Aug 5 '17 at 14:13
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    What level are these students, BS 2nd, 3rd year? During my undergrad (in ME) I did a lot of controls courses (and I think this is common in ME programs), so framing the programming around control would make sense. In general, teaching new skills focused around a use-case is more motivating than teaching it for its own sake. – Steve Heim Sep 29 '17 at 8:02

You could focus on the kinematics and classical mechanics of robotics, particularly in anthropomorphic robots such as robot arms and human analogues. A good example would be the inverse kinematic equations required for translating end effector position and orientation to revolute joint angles. That can cover things such as Devanit-Hartenburg models and numerical vs. analytical solvers.

  • The problem with your proposed approach is that OP may not have the background to confidently and effectively teach from the classical mechanics angle. – Mad Jack Aug 5 '17 at 14:15
  • @Mad Jack some of the stuff I mentioned isn't particularly advanced, if OP has a decent mathematical background they can probably learn it themselves after a little self-study. They can avoid mentioning more complex things if they aren't confident. – Crazymoomin Aug 6 '17 at 11:18

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