Teaching Matters

PS9 R1b Design and build with no build

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Teaching Matters 2020 | Presentation Details | 2 December 20202 Dec 2020


Design and build with no build


  • Tim Gale, School of Engineering, CoSE*
  • Reilly Callaghan, School of Engineering, CoSE
  • Charles Sutherland, School of Engineering, CoSE
  • Peter Doe, School of Engineering, CoSE *


Digital connections

Presentation Type

Lightning Presentation


Room 1




Students in Engineering Design and Build A (ENG201) develop, evaluate and refine a conceptual design; then build and test a prototype for a national competition. In 2020, teams of 6 students were to build an autonomous robot depositing tennis balls in tubes. In previous years students built physical robots in the Sandy Bay Engineering Workshop, but in 2020 COVID-19 prevented a physical build. So, how was this unit delivered with no physical build component? All teams had experience with creating three dimensional virtual designs using CAD software (Autodesk Inventor), so within a week of the campus closing, tutorial sessions commenced on replacing the physical build with virtual designs. These designs were then brought to life in simulation using the MathWorks product Simscape Multibody (MATLAB and Simulink based). Realistic and functional robots were created in simulation, and programmed to navigate around virtual competition boards; depositing tennis balls in tubes. Designs considered robot dynamics, structural strength and competition performance. Class tutorial sessions were conducted using Web Conferencing (Blackboard Collaborate and Zoom). Assessment and feedback involved four presentations, three group reports and a final individual portfolio. What could be improved? eVALUate responses showed students wanted more individual feedback throughout the semester. This resulted in changes to the proposed 2021 delivery, and delivery of the follow-on unit Engineering Design and Build B (ENG202), to incorporate fortnightly feedback on individual PebblePad ePortfolios with weekly group Web Conference tutorials. Overall, the use of simulation to replace a physical build was well-received, and enabled successful “virtual” delivery of a design and build unit.

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