UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On Dec. 11 during the ME 340: Mechanical Engineering Design Methodology final exam, there were no blue books or pencils in sight. The quiet and concentration typical of an intensive exam was nowhere to be found.
Instead, more than 130 students cheered boisterously in the classroom, rooting for each other’s victory in a battling robot competition. This reflected the vision Jessica Menold, assistant professor of engineering design and mechanical engineering, set forth for the final exam — a sumo-style robotic face-off, where teams spent the semester meticulously building a machine capable of pushing another team’s out of a small ring.
ME 340, a required course for those majoring in mechanical engineering, equips students with the fundamental tools to produce an effective design solution in a realistic environment with conflicting customer needs and technical capabilities. Menold’s students accomplished this through the semester-long development of their autonomous robot.
Menold piloted the competition during fall 2019.
“I felt it was important to build foundational skills in mechatronics and computing, while teaching creative problem solving through design,” she said.