Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy

Use educational affordances of robotics to create CS-STEM opportunities for all learners

Mechanical Foundations with VEX V5 Anytime Online Training

Enjoy the convenience of taking Robotics Academy courses from anywhere in the world and at your own pace, with support and guidance from our highly qualified instructors. Anytime Online classes feature a hybrid learning model where participants receive just-in-time instructional videos as they work through course content in our learning management system. 

In this training, you will learn how to teach the mechanical competencies real-world robotics technicians use every day. Tuition includes online access to CS2N and Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy Training Materials. To follow along with this course, you will need access to VEX V5 Classroom Super Kit and some inexpensive classroom materials (not included with tuition). 

Mechanical Foundations focuses on mechanical concepts such as structural design, weight distribution, drivetrains, fastening, the relationship between speed and torque, and alternate methods of transferring motion such as linear slides and belts and pulleys. The Mechanical Foundations curriculum familiarizes students with the foundational skills needed to understand how components come together and different use cases for creating motion. It is one of five courses developed as part of the Smart Manufacturing and Advanced Robotics Training (SMART) Project, funded by the ARM Institute. Please see Robotics Technician Curricula for more information.

Teachers using PLTW curriculum are welcome to enroll and will benefit from a deeper understanding of the robot hardware, engineering, and troubleshooting techniques we focus on. The Project Lead the Way teachers we have worked with have found our training to be a highly valuable complement to the PTLW training.


Unit 1: Strength, Stability, and Balance

This unit introduces how to create simple, durable structural foundations essential for any robotics system. We begin by identifying important parts, tools, and procedures, and by creating examples of some simple structures. As the unit project, you will create a reinforced crane to demonstrate your understanding of simple structural design.
Unit 2: Transmissions and Mechanical Advantage

Transmissions work alongside motors to allow systems to deliver increased Torque or Speed. In this unit, we explore several approaches to create Mechanical Advantage. As the unit project, you will develop an arm for the crane which must be able to move a heavy load. 
Unit 3: Drivetrains

Choosing an appropriate drivetrain depends on the task that the robot needs to accomplish. The most basic drivetrain for a robot usually consists of a chassis, motors that are attached to the chassis, and wheels that are attached to the motor. In this unit, you will build several different examples of drivetrains. As the unit project, you will design a custom drivetrain that can climb obstacles. 

The following is required to complete this course:

VEX Hardware – Sold Separately

  • We recommend these VEX materials. Substitutions are permitted as long as builds reflect the intended learning goals.

VEXcode V5 Text - Freely Available


Computer System Requirements

  • Windows® 7, 8, 10 or later / Mac® OSX 10.8 or later
  • Modern Web Browser and PDF Viewer
  • At least one available USB port
  • Broadband Internet connection

Additional Materials

  • Binders
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Index Cards
  • Rope/String
  • Weights
  • Construction Paper

Cost - $299

Use the links to the right to register or checkout instantly. 

Upon Completion

– ACT 48 credits / 36 hours per class (for Pennsylvania teachers only)
– Certificate of Completion of course ‘graduates’ – may be used to apply for Continuing Education hours


We will only use personal information (such as name, mailing address or e-mail address) contained in your registration or correspondence to respond to your questions or provide Robotics Academy updates. If you enter a chat area or post messages, remember that other users may have access to your email address and user name. The Robotics Academy will not share any personal information provided by you with any unauthorized person or company except where the disclosure is required by law or is necessary to comply with legal process.

Certificate of Completion Requirements

To earn the Certification, class attendees must complete all course assignments to the satisfaction of the instructor and pass the certification exam.

Class Eligibility

Classes at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy are available to individuals who are at least 18 years of age and minors who have parental consent to enroll. The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy reserves the right to restrict, suspend or terminate any student for violation of these policies. In consideration of your involvement with the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy, you agree to provide true, accurate and current information about yourself when you register. If you provide any information that is inaccurate or if the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy has reasonable grounds to suspect the information is inaccurate, the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy has the right to terminate your account.


Purchasing a seat to online classes gives access to one participant only. Resources distributed as part of the class are for use of the participant only. Purchase Orders are also acceptable. Please contact the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy at for information about registering for the course, and payment for the course.  Please email if you have questions about the content of the course.

Internet Access / Bandwidth Fees

The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy is not responsible for any internet access or bandwidth fees you incur while taking this class.

International Export Controls

International enrollment is subject to applicable the United States export controls and laws.


Refunds are generally not available for Anytime Online Training. Please contact the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy at for more information. 

Copyrighted Class Material

All course documents are owned by the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy. These materials may not be reprinted in any form except those specified for instructional purposes. The course documents and presentations may be displayed and printed for personal, non-commercial use only. Only students registered for this course may access this material. The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy makes every effort to provide accurate and up-to-date content. However, we have no liability for the accuracy, content, or accessibility of the hyperlinks included with class material.

Use of Student Material

The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy reserves the right to use coursework done by students for the purpose of advancing the educational mission of the Academy. When this occurs, students will be given the option to have their name credited to the material. This includes, but is not limited to, text, graphics, multimedia and other material created as part of the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy online course assignments.


You agree to indemnify and hold the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy harmless from any and all losses, actions, controversies, suits, demands, claims, liabilities or any causes of action whatsoever. You expressly agree that the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy is not responsible or liable for any infringement of another’s rights, including intellectual property rights.

Note: Policies are subjected to occasional revisions.