As courses quickly transitioned to online formats in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, instructors had to create new plans for the remaining weeks of their semester overnight. Some classes were more easily adjusted than others, but even those that presented unique challenges were overcome by creative solutions, like mail-delivered robot parts.
In their EECS 373 course, Prof. Ron Dreslinski and Dr. Matt Smith were teaching students to work with sensors, actuators, wireless conductivity, and computing components that make up embedded systems (special-purpose computing devices) when the online transition began. To ensure that students still had the opportunity to complete their final project, the instructors researched component kits they could send to their students.
After receiving their kits, students were tasked with building robots that needed to detect and navigate towards the brightest light source in a room while avoiding obstacles. Although this was very different from how this end-of-the-semester group project would usually be completed, students appreciated the effort their instructors put into guaranteeing they could still apply their new skills and build a robot themselves.