Co-Robots to Engage Next Generation of STEM Learners

Supported through NSF-NRI, the goal of this project is to investigate the educational benefits that context and interdisciplinary nature bring to robotics projects and curricula. The goal is to study the effectiveness of application-based robotics activities for engaging students in STEM. This work provides opportunities for broadening interest and participation of middle school and high school students in STEM fields through high-interest themes, meaningful contexts, and hands-on activities that engage both the right (analytical thinking) and left side (integrative design) of the brain.

With the Glider for Underwater Problem-solving and Promotion of Interest in Engineering (GUPPIE), students learn how robots can help people to explore environment and how to use collected data to predict change and prevent hazards.

Achievements to date:

Instructional Material:

  • Teacher’s Manual: A GUPPIE assembly manual has been developed for teachers describing details of the GUPPIE built process.
  • Middle School and High School Curriculum: a five day outreach program has been developed and implemented in classroom.
  • Videos: A pair of videos explaining underwater glider design and how it works are posted on YouTube, which have reached more than 18000 viewers.
In-person teaching aid: GUPPIE has been used as a centerpiece for an outreach program at Michigan Tech, introducing pre-college students to engineering.
  • 440 students Water Festival and STEM Festival 2012-2014.
  • 57 highschool students WIE and ESP program SYP 2014.
  • 24 highschool students WIE program SYP 2015.
  • 21 Middleschool students SYP 2015 (offered a new robotic program).

Related Publications:

  1. Mitchell B., Wilkening E., and Mahmoudian N.,“Developing an Educational Underwater Glider”, International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Karlsruhe, Germany, May 6-10, 2013.
  2. Ziaee Fard S., Aramizo Riberio G., and Mahmoudian N., “GUPPIE, Underwater 3D Printed Robot a Game Changer in Control Design Education”, American Control Conference, Chicago, IL, July 1-3, 2015.
  3. Wilkening E., Ziaee Fard S., Mitchell B., and Mahmoudian N.,“A Glider for Underwater Outreach Programs and Promotion of Interest in Engineering”, International Journal of Robotics and Automation, (under preparation).

More research...


Nina Mahmoudian
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Purdue University
585 Purdue Mall
West Lafayette, IN 47907