Implementing a College Level Robotics Course


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Implementing a College Level Robotics Course

  1. 1. Implementing a College Level Robotics Course Jeanine Meyer Purchase College/SUNY
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Background/motivation for course </li></ul><ul><li>Course description </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Upper-level elective: can satisfy requirements for mathematics/computer science and new media majors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reflections </li></ul><ul><li>Work for you! </li></ul>
  3. 3. Background <ul><li>[ancient] work in robotics at IBM Research </li></ul>
  4. 4. Background, cont. <ul><li>Box frame robot </li></ul><ul><li>A Manufacturing Language (AML) </li></ul><ul><li>Software for out-sourced Scara robot </li></ul><ul><li>Manufacturing systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tools for logistics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Robot surgery (….Robodoc) </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Why do course <ul><li>Reviewed book on Robotic Sumo by David Perdue </li></ul><ul><ul><li>he is working on a Mindstorms book </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wanted to return to previous interest </li></ul><ul><li>Give students introduction [taste] of operating in the physical world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Variability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Continuous phenomena as opposed to discrete </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dangers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Time </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. And… <ul><li>We are all grand masters at …putting things on top of other things,….assembly, recognizing many patterns, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Peter Will, IBM </li></ul><ul><li>This makes the programming more difficult, not less. </li></ul>
  7. 7. First day exercise <ul><li>Ways to program robot </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Teleoperator </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teach/playback </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Program with sensory feedback </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Data driven automation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>What are the directions / how do you teach someone to tie shoes? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Problems at my institution <ul><li>Students not engineers, not particularly strong programmers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mathematics/computer science </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wide variety of backgrounds, including </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students who have ‘done robotics’ in middle school or high school </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Little technical support </li></ul>
  9. 9. Lego Mindstorms <ul><li>Partial solution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Capped enrollment at 15 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Restrict kits to the lab </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Made exceptions towards the end </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2 out of 15 students purchased their own kits </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Team work is a goal! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Basic building projects: 5 teams of 3 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Their building projects … 8 + 2 were enough </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Involved the 2 building computer engineers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Encouraged them to build tribot </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Had them substitute when I was away </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Needed to request funds from centralized source: 8 kits </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Another problem <ul><li>Given all this robotics activity in k-12, how to make this a college course? Would colleagues and/of students think this was just playing with toys? </li></ul><ul><li>Note: this may have been unwarranted worry. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We need electives. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I was willing to take on the task for developing a new course. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People know my history…. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Approach <ul><li>Lego Mindstorms only part of the course </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students responsible for defining building project </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other part </li></ul><ul><ul><li>My lectures on robotics plus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students responsible for </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Library research assignment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Posting and responding to news on on-line discussion board </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Course Components <ul><li>Listen & participate in lecture & discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Propose, get approval and do library research & make presentation on robot topic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Making presentations is a goal by itself </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 page write-up </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pay attention to news and make postings & reply to others on robot topics </li></ul><ul><li>Build the assigned Mindstorm projects: teams </li></ul><ul><li>Plan and complete original Mindstorm project: teams or individual [or different hardware] </li></ul><ul><li>Midterm and Final </li></ul>
  13. 13. Lecture topics <ul><li>Levels of language </li></ul><ul><li>Basic mechanics </li></ul><ul><li>Very, very basic kinematics & reverse kinematics </li></ul><ul><li>Types of manufacturing, automation </li></ul><ul><li>Artificial intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropomorphic fallacy (?) </li></ul><ul><li>3D CAD (Google Sketchup) </li></ul><ul><li>Movement in a crowded workspace </li></ul><ul><li>Locomotion (e.g., walking, crawling) </li></ul><ul><li>Telepresence </li></ul><ul><li>Surgery </li></ul>
  14. 14. Lecture & Discussion Board topics <ul><li>Home health care </li></ul><ul><li>Soccer robotics </li></ul><ul><li>Prothestics </li></ul><ul><li>Vacuuming </li></ul><ul><li>DARPA competitions </li></ul>
  15. 15. Mindstorms projects <ul><li>Tribot </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Basics with tribot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Using each sensor </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Creating file data </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mapping a room </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bluetooth (2 or 3 NXT bricks, maybe in tribots) </li></ul><ul><li>Student defined projects </li></ul>
  16. 16. Aside on Bluetooth <ul><li>It took me time and experimentation AND using on-line forums to understand it. </li></ul><ul><li>This is a lesson for the students </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>I think…. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Mapping exercise <ul><li>Assume tribot or tribot like robot with typical sensors (bump, ultrasound, rotation), file capability </li></ul><ul><li>You define the constraints, for example, room must be square, or polygon. </li></ul><ul><li>How to generate data to be uploaded to personal computer to draw the [boundaries of] room. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Materials <ul><li>Schedule, lecture notes, midterm and final all online </li></ul>
  19. 19. Library research reports <ul><li>Locomotion </li></ul><ul><li>Space </li></ul><ul><li>Animatronics </li></ul><ul><li>Muscle wire </li></ul><ul><li>Toy </li></ul><ul><li>Cars </li></ul><ul><li>Healthcare </li></ul><ul><li>Mars Rover </li></ul><ul><li>Telepresence </li></ul><ul><li>Robot surgery </li></ul><ul><li>MIT leg lab </li></ul><ul><li>17 th -18 th century robots </li></ul><ul><li>Omnicircus </li></ul><ul><li>Microsoft Robotics Studio </li></ul><ul><li>Autonomous vehicle </li></ul>
  20. 20. Final Building projects <ul><li>Walking puppy (didn’t work, but…) </li></ul><ul><li>Cat and mouse </li></ul><ul><li>Wall follower (not reliable) </li></ul><ul><li>Maze wall follower sending information to NXT </li></ul><ul><li>Sumo Crystal & Alexandria's video </li></ul><ul><li>Building robot using own hardware </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate toy </li></ul>
  21. 21. Results <ul><li>Success! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[I believe] students understood the difficulties of robotic applications and the wide variety of robot related research & development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students did well on quizzes and attempted interesting projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Autonomous survey </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Limited participation (7/15) but did include the students I expected to be negative, if anyone was, and didn’t include the most enthusiastic. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Informal feedback positive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>3 students doing independent studies with me in the Fall. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Good, easy-going group of students so teams worked </li></ul><ul><li>Note: most students knew me and so expected things such as presentations, posting, working in teams, quiz guides </li></ul>
  22. 22. Survey <ul><li>What did you like best…? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Building, lab & lecture time, hands-on, experience of professor with older forms… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What would you change in the course? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less required posting, historical readings, other programming languages, more on servos, NOT MUCH </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How would you describe the course to others? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interesting manufacturing.., relaxed, fun, different </li></ul></ul><ul><li>71% strongly agreed or agreed that working in teams with the kits was successful in terms of learning </li></ul><ul><li>43% neutral (none negative) on on-line discussion. </li></ul>
  23. 23. General comment <ul><li>I think the course in general was great. I would have liked to have a done a little more work in the labs. </li></ul><ul><li>I really liked this class as a new media class due to its lack of forcing art on us. I think this let the learning take charge instead of focusing on trying to be creative, which lead to being plenty creative. </li></ul><ul><li>i thought it was a great course overall </li></ul><ul><li>wonderful class.. fun working in projectss with peers </li></ul><ul><li>It would be helpful to some how make the Lego more readily available to assist in learning the program, error corrections and building projects out side of class. I also understand it is difficult, but it would be helpful. To some how create a swipe box where their kits are sorted and available outside of class time. Using the student?s id to access to the lego kit which they are using. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Caution <ul><li>Truth in advertising: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Colleague included robotics in a course on computer organization and had some problems </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sometimes teamwork does not go well </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May need </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>to define procedure for firing a team member! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>to defend giving all members the same grade OR specifying a way to allocate credit. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. HELP! <ul><li>Use NXT-G (iconic language) or something else </li></ul><ul><li>Google Sketchup: stay with basic ‘get to know you’ exercise or less or more </li></ul><ul><li>Required posting on Blackboard or less or more and/or required participation in nxtasy forums </li></ul><ul><li>How to improve participation by females or is it okay (4/15, slightly ahead of percentage in math/cs and new media! Sigh… ) </li></ul><ul><li>Raise standards: is just trying enough? </li></ul><ul><li>What to do with graduates of k-12 programs? </li></ul>
  26. 26. Thank you <ul><li>Email [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Visit: /~Jeanine </li></ul><ul><li>Fall courses include </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Programming Games, an introduction to programming course and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicating Quantitative Information, a general education course based on mathematics in news stories </li></ul></ul>