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Adding Resultant Force and Equilibriants Force

In: Other Topics

Submitted By amalina
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| |Academic & Professional Qualifications: |
| |BSc (Eng), MPhil (H.K.); MBA (C.U.H.K.); PhD[PolyU (H.K.)], MemACM; MemASME; MemIEEE |
| | |
| |Research Interests: |
| |Mechatronics; computational intelligence; computer vision. |
| | |
| |FG638 |
| |Tel: 2766-6659 |
| |E-mail: |
| | |
| |
|David YUEN |
|Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University |


This subject is called Mechatronics where a continuous assessment method is incorporated. This subject is mainly offered in Year 2 of the Higher Diploma program. Since the class size is quite big that we usually have 40+ students, the whole class is split up into 2 groups. Further, they have to form small groups 2-3 students per group to work on the mini projects. In this subject, students have to complete a mini project in order to pass this subject.

This subject consists of principles of mechanics, electronics, microprocessor, actuator, and sensor together. If you teach this subject in a conventional way that you teach each component separately, the contents are easy to get loose. However, if you use a project to integrate these components altogether, the contents are bonded closely together. The project-based learning approach aims at encouraging students to create, training them to become more confident in problem solving, improving their management and communication skills, encouraging them to find information on their own, increasing their awareness of the importance of integration concept and enabling them to integrate different principles and skills.


Before using this approach, some final projects of the same topic had been done. These projects provided a framework for this subject using the project-based approach, and that gave the lecturer ideas on what preparation work should be done beforehand. As for the resources, the department supplies all required equipment while the students pay for the materials. However, payment can be reimbursed up to $1,000 per group.


For every week, a 3-hour workshop, replacing lecture and tutorial which, takes place in the laboratory. The course in the first few weeks is structured and guided. Each week will cover a different topic and then students have to do exercises, which are related to the topic covered every week. The knowledge covered in these few weeks is highly related to what students should have learned before doing their projects. In short, students are expected to acquire the basic skills within this period. In the meantime, each group has to submit a proposal of the project design including the robot design and the project schedule. The first come first in policy is adopted to avoid duplication of project ideas and encourage innovation. Once the lecturer has received the proposals from different groups, he would challenge the design and judge the feasibility of the project. The lecturer will also give each group suggestions on the design in order to make the project more manageable. In the mid-term, each group is required to do a presentation on the work progress of the project. During the presentation, besides briefing the class on the product design, each group has to explain the functions of the main electronic parts to be used in the product. Students are required to use PowerPoint to present their projects and all presentations must be done in English. This mid-term presentation helps each group and the lecturer to monitor the progress of the project. This also helps maintain the quality of the whole project. Throughout the whole process, students encounter many problems that they need to identify the causes of the problems and explain how these problems can be solved. At the end, each group has to present their project. They are required to demonstrate the final products. Besides, they need to use PowerPoint to explain the structure of their products and share their experience with each other. In the final presentation, each group member has to present at least one part so as to allow the lecturer to evaluate the presentation skills of individual student.


Throughout the whole process, the lecturer acts as a facilitator to monitor the progress of the project to make sure all projects are running at the appropriate pace and guide or work with the students to find information from different sources instead of passing the information to the students directly. Later on, a certain amount of autonomy will be given to the students so as to give them more space to create. Since mostly students work on their projects outside classroom hours, the lecturer would be happy to stay in the laboratory to help the students to solve any problem related to their projects.


Besides a number of presentations, each group has to submit a project product (i.e., a robot) and a written report to pass the subject.


In the very beginning, each group has to present their proposed project ideas and the robot design. Later, all groups have to present once again as a mid-term oral report on the progress of their projects. At the end of the course, each group member in the final presentation has to take up at least one part so as to allow the lecturer to evaluate the presentation skills of individual student. Therefore, the final grade of the members of the same group may vary.


Each group at the end needs to submit a small toy robot as partial fulfillment of this subject. The final product should at least have the basic functionalities set out in the subject. If the robot has these basic functionalities, the group will pass the subject without difficulty. Certainly, students can add in some more functionalities to make their products more outstanding. Then, they will have the chance to get higher marks. Other than functionalities, assessment criteria for the final product also include creativity, complexity and appearance.


Each group has to submit a 10-page final report to layout the structure of the project and to give detailed explanations about the product design. Guidelines are provided to the students to help them write up the report.

At the end, each group has to fill out a form to explain the amount of contribution of each group member amongst the group. It is difficult to find out the truth but it is easy for the lecturer to judge by daily observation.

Student Feedback

• Students are willing to spend extra time on their projects. • The Student Feedback Questionnaire shows that students favor the project-based learning approach. • Students commented that they gained a sense of success from the project in which they had to create a robot on their own. • The experience gained from the project also makes the students become confident handling their job in toy industry.

A Piece of Advice

• Should have some experience of leading a similar project before. • Try best to get sufficient supports and resources from your department. • Capable of handling different types of problems.…...

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