A Quanser Academic Solutions Specialist had previously made a presentation at the University of Utah. “No one else had a product line quite like yours,” says Dr. Mascaro. “I especially liked the idea that you could buy some basic rotary servo modules – SRV02 base units – that could then be reconfigured and have various modular add-ons attached.”
A high degree of modularity is welcome, from both the instructors’ and administrators’ point of view. “If we invested in versatile, high quality hardware, we could then use it for a number of different courses in control systems and in robotics. They would serve more students and allow instructors to vary levels of complexity for different courses.” Equally welcome was the modules’ build quality; they were quite capable of standing up to active use by enthusiastic students.
“I really liked the diversity of Quanser’s rotary control modules and add-ons, but the one thing I didn’t see at that time was a small, reconfigurable, two-degree-of-freedom serial robot. I saw dedicated as well as module-driven parallel robots among Quanser’s products, but not serial robots. And that was something I wanted for my robot control class to demonstrate certain dynamic principles.”
Thinking outside the box, Dr. Mascaro suggested Quanser’s in-kind contribution to fulfill the B.E.E.F. grant requirements could be a new product – a serial robot formed out of rotary SRV02 base units. “I noticed that Quanser already had some add-ons that allowed you to combine two SRV02s in parallel, so I thought why not combine them in series?”
Dr. Mascaro collaborated with Quanser’s engineers to design a new 2 DOF serial robot. It was successfully implemented in his course for the first time in the Spring of 2011. The new robot is used in half a dozen different robotics and control courses and gives hundreds of University of Utah mechanical engineering students more and better hands-on experience in designing and implementing controllers. Some of the students went even further and added to the collaborative process: after working with the new serial robot in class, they suggested improvements and Quanser’s engineers were very receptive to their feedback.