EGGN441 - Introduction to Robotics

Course Syllabus

From Previous Semesters


Instructor:             John Steele                                                                                                                                     

Contact:                  Office: BB 314G  Phone: 303-273-3663  e-mail:

Office hours:         by appointment (email me)


Course Goal

The goal of this course is to give the student an introduction to the world of robotics through a series of hands-on constructionist projects as well as individual study, homework, and exams. In addition, the student will become familiar with, and demonstrate developed skills in the principal subsystems that comprise robotic systems. Those subsystems include:


o      Sensors

o      Microprocessors

o      Motor drivers


o      Motors

o      Gears

o      Mechanism design


o      Flow charting

o      Programming

o      Algorithm development

o      Debugging and testing


o      Power storage

o      Power monitoring and utilization


Students will participate in a series of design projects in which they build and program robots to perform specific tasks. A variety of sensors (e.g., contact sensors, optical encoders, IR rangers, photo detectors, IR communication sensors,) will be characterized, wired and then integrated into the robot to provide environmental and pro-perceptive sensing.


Students will form teams of two to build and demonstrate the following projects:

1.     Motor performance characterization

2.     Dead reckoning navigation (open loop control)

3.     Reactive control

4.     Obstacle avoidance and maze navigation

5.     Maze solving (learning a direct path to the goal)

6.     Open-ended design project

Each project takes approximately two weeks.


Students will learn about and perform data acquisition (both analog and digital), data interpretation, C programming, algorithm development, IR sensing, optical encoders and dead reckoning navigation, mechanism design and construction, sensor integration and characterization, wiring, soldering, and troubleshooting.


Students will be introduced to the kinematics of robots for robot manipulators. The mathematical underpinnings that result in the homogeneous transforms will be presented. Students will develop forward and inverse kinematic solutions for simple planar robots. These solutions will then be incorporated into mechanical mechanisms as part of the control.


There will be:

       Homework (individual effort)

       Exams (individual effort)

       Projects (team effort, 50% of grade is based on performance and 50% on the report)

       Robot of the Week presentation (presented in lecture, with lab partner)



% of grade



Exams (2)


Projects (7)


Robot of the Week Presentation (1)


Attendance and Participation




The emphasis of this class is on the experience gained from building, wiring, coding, and debugging electro-mechanical devices (aka mechatronic systems). Time outside of the scheduled lab session will be required to complete the lab projects! Lab reports must use the lab memo format provided on Blackboard. Pre-lab memos are required and are due at the beginning of lab the week we start a new project.  Grading rubrics will be provided for each lab.


Attendance is required, especially for the lab segment of the course - one simply cannot be as productive if one team member is not present. Student are expected to attend all classes, attendance will be taken. However, life is full of unexpected occurrences, e.g., a car that wont start, a visiting relative, illness, etc. All of these are acceptable excuses for not attending, as long as you notify me ahead of time. To notify me of an impeding absence, send me an email with the subject title Absence from EGGN 441.  Unexcused absences will result in fewer point under the Attendance and Participation grade; and can also affect your lab grades. So let me know if you have to miss class or lab. For lab, you will need to arrange with your partner when you can make up the time.


A schedule of semester dates and activities will be provided in a separate document.