Technology, Arts and Media Program header

ATLS 4519-070/071: Safe Cracking with Robots

Course Description

Combining 3D printing, electronics, and mechanical locks you will build a robot to open a combination safe while learning what it means to be an ethical hacker. You will learn how common combination locks and fire safes function and experiment with their feature set to open a variety of different lock types.

We’ll have a handful of safes to experiment and learn on with the ultimate goal of discovering vulnerabilities and exploits of various mechanical locks. You will advance your skills in 3D printing, Arduino, mechatronics, and learn about motor encoders. Student groups will come up with and build different robotic solutions to open their assigned safe before the end of the semester. This course will focus on critical thinking in a physical form. Lock technologies will be explored throughout history.

Course Objectives

Students who successfully complete this course will:

Critical Thinking & Theory / History:
  • The history of safe cracking and lock technology
  • What is ethical hacking?
  • Differences between white hat and black hat hackers?
  • Students will design and assemble a mechanical system to interface with a combination lock
  • Students will select and source parts
  • Students will design and 3D print or laser cut parts that can’t be sourced
  • Students will evaluate various types of locking mechanisms and design feedback systems to analyze those locks
  • How to use Arduino to measure and respond to mechanical systems
  • Sensor integration and interfacing
  • Basic PCB design and layout
  • Basic power calculations and power supply design
  • 3D printing

Credit Hours

  • 3 hours


  • FORM or similar course or 3D design or experience
  • Object or similar course or Strong experience with Arduino or other microcontroller/SBC