Course Descriptions
MECH_ENG 495: Selected Topics: Robot Design Studio (ECE 495)

Quarter Offered

Winter : WF 12pm - 1:20pm ; Colgate/Hunt
Spring : WF 12pm - 1:20pm ; Colgate/Hunt


Students must commit to both quarters of the course.  If a student drops the course after the first quarter, he/She will not receive credit for the first quarter.

This is a two-quarter hands-on sequence in which students work in a team in a professional environment to design and build a robust, elegant, and sophisticated electromechanical system. Students are required to take both quarters. Credit for the first quarter will be given upon completion of the second quarter.

Who Takes It

This course should be taken by undergraduate or graduate students who have appropriate background and are passionate about becoming an electromechanical designer. For ME seniors, this two-course sequence satisfies the ME capstone design requirement.

To be eligible for the course, the student must have demonstrated background and capability in one or more of the following areas, and should have an interest in the others: CAD, finite elements, rapid prototyping, machining, embedded systems and microcontrollers, software design, electronics and PCB design, real-time control, sensors, and actuators. Examples of this background could be experience in ME 333 Introduction to Mechatronics, ME 433 Advanced Mechatronics, ME 495 Embedded Systems in Robotics, ME 495/CS 396,496 Quadrotor Design and Control, ME 340-1 and 340-2 Computer Integrated Manufacturing, ME 449 Robotic Manipulation, CS 301 Introduction to Robotics Laboratory, COMP_ENG 347 Microprocessor Systems Project, ECE 395/495 Engineering System Design 1 and/or 2, and DSGN 34x; significant involvement in design and building of a car or rocket or robot for competition; expertise in the topic areas through extracurricular projects; and others.

Further Details

Interdisciplinary teams of students will take a set of specifications for a robot system and an example rough initial design and, by the end of two quarters, produce a robust and elegant working prototype along with documentation. Students will undertake all aspects of the electromechanical design process: CAD modeling, sourcing and acquiring components, machining and outsourcing machining, motor and transmission selection, sensor selection, cabling/wiring, power electronics, PCB design, microcontroller/microcomputer selection, control system architecture, software architecture, and real-time control. This course is distinguished by the demand for a robust, near-product-ready final design designed and built by a multi-disciplined team of engineers. Example projects from last year include a hopping robot, a 2-degree of freedom teaching robot, and a compact smart actuator.


The course will be led by Ed Colgate. Other faculty will serve as consultants and guest lecturers, including Profs. Mike Beltran, Alex Birdwell, Dan Brown, Kevin Lynch, Nick Marchuk, Matt Elwin, Paul Umbanhowar, Ilya Mikhelson, Michael Peshkin, Mike Rubenstein, and Jarvis Schultz. Other guest lecturers will come from industry.

If you are not sure you have the right background or if you have any further questions about the class, contact Dr. Colgate directly at