Vanderbilt University introduced a new course in the 2012 Fall Semester: Cyber-physical vehicle modeling, design and development. This course focused on the design, development, fabrication, verification, and validation of a scale vehicle in the virtual and the physical domains to meet a set of realistic and challenging design requirements for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Model-Based Amphibious Racing Challenge. The students built a series of models in software and hardware to guide the design choices for the 1/5th scale amphibious vehicle. The culmination of this course was a competition against teams from other universities in January 2013 that compared the vehicle’s actual performance with student-created simulation models. This was an elective course outside the traditional capstone design curriculum and consisted of a team of juniors and seniors across the disciplines of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, and physics. The students received robust training “to be an engineer” with many activities that can’t be included in a typical classroom environment: hands-on experience designing, modeling, and building a complete vehicle; simultaneously solving several open ended, rigid deadline challenges; and navigating complex team dynamics in a full end-to-end project. Additionally, the students gained experience using modern engineering modeling tools from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s META tool suite under development for the Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle program. The META tool suite is a set of free, open source tools for compositional design synthesis at multiple levels of abstraction, design trade space exploration, metrics assessment, and probabilistic verification of system correctness. This work details the course activities and summarizes the lessons learned from a pedagogy perspective.

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