Robert C. Maher, Ph.D., P.E.

Electrical & Computer Engineering

EELE 101: Introduction to Electrical Fundamentals

A Montana Space Grant Consortium Project
Fall Semester 2004 - 2012

All materials Copyright © 2012 by Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Montana State University. All Rights Reserved.

ECEbot Epsilon Version


The Montana State University Electrical and Computer Engineering Department uses a small custom robot kit for student learning during the freshman year. Each student in EELE101 buys a parts kit and learns to assemble and test the robot in a series of experiments and projects throughout the semester. As of the Fall 2012 semester, over 900 students successfully built an ECEbot robot.

Beginning in Spring 2013 EELE 101 students are working on a "Freescale Cup" race car kit, and the venerable ECEbot has been retired.

<-- ECEbot "epsilon" used for academic year 2007-2008. Current robot is version "zeta."

Backgroundstudent soldering

During summer and fall 2004, former Department Head Jim Peterson suggested that the MSU ECE Department work on a major revision to our introductory course for freshmen, EE101: Introduction to Electrical Fundamentals Lab. The revision included adding a 50 minute lecture session each week in addition to the existing 2 hour lab period, increasing the number of credits from 1 to 2, and developing an entirely new set of laboratory experiments based on a custom mobile robot: the ECEbot.

The work on this revision was made possible by an Educational Enhancement grant to Prof. Rob Maher and Adjunct Prof. Bob Gunderson from the Montana Space Grant Consortium. The course revision simply would not have been possible without the MSGC support, since the funding enabled the final mechanical and electrical design of the robot, the embedded software development, and the authorship of the laboratory experiments and assembly guides.

ECEbot Beta version (2004)The original prototype robot concept was developed in 2003-2004 by undergraduate assistant Gary Schoep, under the direction of Prof. Gunderson. Additional early development work was conducted by ECE undergraduate assistant Brad Towle, during 2004.

<--Original ECEbot "beta" version used for the first time in Fall 2004

Prof. Maher developed the robot lab experiments and assembly guides with the help of Brad Towle.  The first class sections for the revised EE101 during FL04 and SP05 were taught by Prof. Jim Becker and Adjunct Prof. Tia Sharpe.  Prof. Becker prepared EE101 lecture notes for sale from campus copy shop.

Recent printed circuit board layout improvements and enhanced design features have been developed and implemented by Brent Olson, ECE Stockroom Manager.

The EE 101 course was renamed "EELE 101: Introduction to Electrical Fundamentals" in 2011 as part of the statewide common course numbering effort.


student and TA

Senior Design Projects

Several ECE Senior Project teams have been using the ECEbot as a platform for advanced features and capabilities.  One multidisciplinary team involved CpE, MET, and ME majors who worked on a cost-reduced printed circuit board and chassis assembly.  Past and current senior project groups have developed infrared sensors and guidance controls to replace the mechanical bumper switches and "dead reckoning" navigation.

Another ongoing ECEbot-based senior project is designing hardware and software for wireless data networking among several robots and computers.

ECEbot Delta version

Robot Labs and Assembly Guides

Questions regarding the ECEbot project?
Please contact:
Robert C. Maher
email:  [email protected]


<--ECEbot "delta" version used for 2006-2007:

Student-built ECEbots racing to the net at an MSU women's volleyball game (22 October 2004). -->ECEbots at Volleyball Game

Former EELE 101 students at "robot reunion"<-- ECE students "ECEbot reunion" prior to our switch to the Freescale Club robot kits (3 April 2013).