All electromechanical systems have a limited scope and a fixed lifespan. It is inevitable that at some stage the operators will be required to either adapt a system to satisfy its new requirements or diagnose, troubleshoot and repair in case of faults/failures. Such tasks require that operators and technicians are, not only prepared to know how to successfully identify the requirements of a broad range of systems on hand, but also to have the ability to provide innovative solutions using limited replacements and/or fabrication resources available in low-technology austere environments; for example, for Army or Navy on-field missions, the long logistical supply chains challenge the ability to obtain spare parts in a timely manner and technicians are required to maintain and adapt systems in short time-frame, especially if the systems are mission critical.
In this paper, we will show how one can utilize a hands-on pedagogical approach to teach universal principles on which all moderate to highly complex electromechanical systems work. The curriculum, developed using exemplary project kits, provided students basic foundation and then introduced them to a systematic and all-encompassing process to diagnose, troubleshoot and adapt a broad range of electromechanical systems. A quadcopter was chosen as the exemplary project kit to teach the concepts. A non-linear learning platform was developed to enable students with various technical backgrounds to learn the information in as efficient manner as possible. After students were familiar with the system, a variety of failures were introduced in the system and students were required to diagnose and repair the quadcopter using a systematic process which enabled them to acquire the skills to utilize a broad set of tools and technologies, a subset of which could be available in real-life situations. The curriculum also enabled students to adapt such systems using pre-existing components of other systems, through manufacture of as-designed components or through the design and manufacture of new components using additive manufacturing technologies.
The paper includes an overview of the pedagogy used, curriculum developed, and implementation. The data presented are based on three workshops taught to military personnel. These workshops served as a case-study and provided valuable feedback on the pedagogical approach, the learning platform, and curriculum modules. The paper concludes with suggestions for modifications and future applications.
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