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Robots Coming to Intro Computer Science Classes 175

BlueCup writes "Two colleges are hoping to make computer science courses more attractive by including personal robots with the textbooks. Looking to boost enrollment in introductory computer science classes, Microsoft Corp. is working with Bryn Mawr College and Georgia Tech on developing new ways to bring robotics technology into the classroom. Douglas Blank, a computer science professor at Bryn Mawr, said the goal will be to start incorporating the robots in introductory courses at the suburban Philadelphia college next spring. Georgia Tech hopes to start during that term as well. The idea behind the program, Blank said, is to make computer science more hands-on and practical, rather than simply about debugging programs." Update: 07/13 15:52 GMT by T :Professor Blank wrote in with some clarification on one of his statements — read on below.

dougblank writes

"Note to self: when talking to the press, don't use complicated technical jargon, like 'debugging' :) I think what I actually said was 'rather than debug a program to make it give the right answer, the students must debug the program to make the robot behave the way they want it to.'

I think many of you will actually like the hardware, software, and curriculum that we are designing. Check out roboteducation.org/ and pyrorobotics.org. The new version of the software will be based on Pyro, Python Robotics. We think of the hardware as something like an iPod on wheels. The software is also being developed with an open source license. This project is not what many of you guess it might be.

The CS1 and CS2 that we are developing won't be watered down, but also won't be just the standard 'intro to programming, using robots.' It's a complete rethinking of the intro courses."

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Robots Coming to Intro Computer Science Classes

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 13, 2006 @06:51AM (#15711582)
    ... with sex ed classes.
  • Great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jpaz ( 512242 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @06:52AM (#15711584) Homepage
    As if books aren't already expensive enough. I wonder how much a used robot/textbook will cost, as well.
    • Well it is BillGatesbot, so the cost is $50 Billion.

      Why you ask, that was what it costed in 1990 and MS does not sell any for less than they sold it before.
    • Re:Great (Score:5, Informative)

      by Alamoth ( 927972 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @07:25AM (#15711723)
      The Sony AIBO (before it was discontinued) cost $2,000. However, schools are allowed to buy them for educational purposes at a discounted price of ~$1,700. This is a robust platform, and not everyone needs one. As far as personal robots goe, the B.O.E. Educational robots go for $100 ~ $500 depending on quality. The lower end is a little more pricey than your average new textbook.
      • Re:Great (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Unfortunately I haven't made an account so don't dismiss me for being an AC. I have actually been working with a small college called Canisius in Buffalo and we have already introduced robotics into our lower level classes. Believe it or not, it does help. Students were going nuts with it. I even think we gave Doug the idea for this. If you check out AAAI last year, there was a paper from canisius college about robotics in CS classes. Of course you don't use the Aibo (which I love programming on) for
        • If it uses Java, then I'm in. I don't want to start a flame war, but Java is a decent first or second language to learn. Personally, I learned BASIC, C, C++, then Java.
    • Insightful! I have more than one CS book that I paid $100+ for and opened maybe twice, due to the fact that my professor was pretty much speaking off the cuff the whole time. Oh well, they look pretty good on my shelf.
      • Most of my CS professors just assigned books that would be helpful to have on your professional bookshelf and taught us what they pleased. I have plenty of $80+ books (never a $100 though) that I've never needed for class but have helped out a lot since then. The most important IMHO being my Algorithms textbook.
      • Most of my computer science professors understood the racket that is the textbook industry, or had written so many of their own textbooks they just handed out notes (apparently it's unethical to teach from your own textbook, but not from the notes you used to write the textbook). So they had us buy cheap books that serve as good reference material, if any at all. And actually we did use them quite a bit anyway.

        Maybe the market will find a good robot or two that are common across universities, that or an op

        • Re:Great (Score:3, Insightful)

          Just sounds like a gimmic to me.

          I flirted with Comp Sci a long time before I actually got physical, and took a lot of classes at a lot of different places. I had classes that were too heavy on theory, I had classes that were too heavy on "practical" skills, which usually amounted to "how to use this language/program to do this thing".

          I think, in the long run, a lot of places really don't have the faintest idea what it takes to make a good CS person. It doesn't help that CS covers way too much ground anyway.
    • Finally! Georgia Tech has listened to our begging and is finally going to improve the Tech Ratio(TM). Not by admitting more girls (after all, the problem isn't the number of girls at Tech, it is the _quality_), but by making them! How much better can you get?! Discussions were under way to implement a send-your-picture-with-application requirement for the female applicants. After a girl met the academic requirements, a comittee of 15 or so guys would determine if she met the "attractiveness" standards. This
    • Lego Mindstorms (Score:4, Interesting)

      by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:43AM (#15712534) Homepage
      My undergraduate cs department purchases some Lego Mindstorms [lego.com] off eBay and used them in the intro courses. They don't cost much (couple hundred max), so our tuition didn't go up anything. You got to write programs for them in Java. It was very exciting and sparked lots of interest (everybody wanted to take the class). Although it's not as cool as each student getting an individual robot, it is as close as some of the smaller campuses can get, and it's a great idea!
    • In my 3rd year robotics course we built robots from scratch. Avg price was $50-100. Basically did the same things TFA was talking about. Following lines, etc. However, most iterations were analog; the final project went digital.
  • Why? (Score:3, Funny)

    by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @06:52AM (#15711586)
    Robots Coming to Intro Computer Science Classes

    As teachers or students?

  • Da Cheatbot (Score:4, Funny)

    by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @06:54AM (#15711595)
    If only I would've had this lesson before deciding on a career in technology [homestarrunner.com]
  • I wonder who's going to repair those things every thime they crash (then seem to run Micro$oft)
  • At Northeastern University I took a course similar to the one in the article except it was related to a program called CenSSIS. It was pretty interesting because it combined ultrasonic technology and programming to work on different projects. The most impressive of which was mapping an object found in jello without cutting into the jello. Though that course was an engineering course and not a computer science course.
  • ...to make computer science more hands-on and practical, rather than simply about debugging programs.

    Kinda like discussing Bronte during Maths to make it "less about numbers", isn't it?

    • No, it's kinda like discussing economics or physics during calculus to make it more practical and show people the real-world applications. Robots are an application of computer science; Bronte is not an application of math, but physics and economics are.

      It's a matter of giving people more practical work, which is both more interesting and easier to learn for some people. I usually find that I learn a language better when I can play with it, and doubly so if I can write something real with it. Having a real piece of hardware that responds to your program is more exciting than just printing messages on a console.

      • >> No, it's kinda like discussing economics or physics during calculus to make it more
        >>practical and show people the real-world applications.

        One problem with this is that a person with a CS undergrad degree isn't qualified to go into automation programming, so it becomes a course which does not lead to employment. It sure would be an exciting course to most, but not a very useful one.

        When a course like this is put into the curriculum, some other course must be taken out to make room for

        • or you could change the first year assembly course from your typical Motorolla HC* microprossor to the roboticsillything microprocessor. That way you actually get taught the assembly stuff and you get the cool robot that will eventually be relegated to holding your beer on last class. . . I don't know about other colleges and universities, but at mine the first year sees over half of their enrolled dissappear after christmas, most of them either hate the first year content, or just plain suck. I could imag
          • If you're programming the robot in assembly then you aren't going to get very far in getting it to do much. Unless your assembly instructions includes MOV A,50, Which moves the arm 50 degrees, then you're going to be pretty limited in what you can get the robot to do. Also, if that's the kind of assembly programming you're doing, then you're not really learning assembly. Despite the fact that we all hated the assembly course, because we had already learned C and Java, and in assembly it takes an hour to w
      • Its quite a shift for Georgia Tech's CS intro; 10 years ago when I was there the Intro to CS class was entirely taught in a pseudo language somewhere between Pascal and Java, the rationale being that denying the feedback of a compiler would force students to understand their logic better. You'd implement programs, algorithms, classes, etc in multi-hundred line pseudocode programs.

        While the CS majors would usually figure it out well enough to get through, the non-CS people who had to take this class were
    • Kinda like discussing Bronte during Maths to make it "less about numbers", isn't it?

      ...or - more like discussing the aesthetic properties of the Golden Ratio during Maths to make it "less about numbers"

  • It case anyone hadn't noticed, computer science has very little to do with computers, and nothing whatsoever to do with hardware. I can just imagine the course instructors cackling as the naive students skip inside expecting arrays of sophisticated robots waiting to be programmed:

    "Fools!! Did you really think it would be that interesting? You're mathematicians now!! Now get back to computing runtime complexities for applications you will never have call to write, or understand! *Wwwuu-ttisshh* Bwahahahhahahaaa !!"
  • I really wish I weren't two years through the CS program here at Georgia Tech already, because the hands on robotics stuff tfa talks about sounds really slick and it would definitely interest me even now. There really isn't an "intro robotics" course here, mainly an AI intro course and then a hodge podge of specialized areas. I did skip my intro CS course but if I had had this kind of stuff as a choice, I would have taken it. Oh well, that is life.

    I hope this program does well and encourages students to
    • >>There really isn't an "intro robotics" course here,

      Yes there is, it is over in the college of EE. They have a very nice robotics program at Ga Tech. Get a dual degree (CS and EE) and you will be unstoppable.

      Really, I don't think robotics belongs in the CS undergrad curriculum. The graduates of that type of program are going into desktop and server programming, not automation. Automation programming requires a lot of hardware knowledge (microprocessors, bit banging, actuators, sensors, signal

      • Shouldn't CS be exciting enough as it is if you're planning on persuing it as a degree? I went through the CS program at UGA back in the late 90's when everbody and their brother was looking to get a CS degree because of the dot com boom. There were a lot of people who just didn't belong in the program. They were folks who just weren't excited about computer science. They would moan and complain when they had to do assignments that required any real though and they'd never try out anything being taught
  • I love the comment about "all about debugging programs" in the summary and article. If that's what these colleges are teaching as CS - programming and debugging - then CS has changed a lot in the last 16 years since I graduated. I had classes in algorithms, operating systems, various sorts of math I don't even remember, AI, networking theory, and more.

    And freakin' robots? Kids were playing with robots in grade school 20 years go (Logo anyone?) - this sounds way too similar to me to belong in college level

    • by engagebot ( 941678 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @07:04AM (#15711649)
      Yep. I'm really the last of the "real" CS students from LSU. Midway through my time in college, they started changing the classes over. Its more software development than anything else. Except starting out with .NET is not great in my opinion

      They got rid of all the architecture classes, especially the good one where you learn about *how* memory works, threading, processor scheduling, all that stuff. They also got rid of the OS class. I mean, they still have an OS class, but its now a touchy-feely class where you don't actually *learn* anything. I feel bad for the kids who are going through right behind me...

      We used to have a mandatory class on assembly too. Granted, its somewhat useless as a programming language in real life, but it still helps teach alot about what's going on at the low, low level.
    • Having just recently graduated from the CS program at GT I would assume that this robot enrollment thing is aimed more at non-CS majors... I know they're currently re-doing the curriculum so that there are different "threads" one can follow through the curriculum... who knows... I will say however, that the intro CS courses at GT do not assume that you've ever programmed before. When I took the course it was basically an intro to algorithms done in "pseudocode". I enjoyed it that way and thought it hel
      • What really sucked is that they used to require everyone to take Scheme (godawful useless language for most of the engineers). Then, the semester after I took the Scheme class (got put in the "advanced" section somehow... didn't really belong there since it was over my head and I'm an aero engineer, but was worth it anyways), they start up their new "Computing for Engineers" course (using Matlab). And now all of my professors assume we know matlab very well because that course is offered... but we never t
    • If you care to read the update, the media misquoted the professor on that debugging statement.

      And as to CS degrees, we still take algorithms, theory, and OS as main core requirements, but we also have options to take elective high level courses such as AI, networking, etc.
  • ...where I study in Stockholm, Sweden. Loads of fun!
  • Practical CS. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "The idea behind the program, Blank said, is to make computer science more hands-on and practical, rather than simply about debugging programs."

    Welcome to DeVry.
  • Pintsize [questionablecontent.net], anyone? Imagine 50 of them running around a computer lab...
  • Coming? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chris Pimlott ( 16212 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @07:03AM (#15711644)
    This is hardly cutting edge;
    Case Western Reserver University started a program like this 5 years ago [cwru.edu] using Lego Mindstorms kits, and I'm sure they weren't the first. This is seperate from the higher-level Autonomous Robotics (aka Lego Lab) [cwru.edu] course that's been going on since 1995 [cwru.edu] and is based largely on MIT's 6.270 Autonomous Robot course [mit.edu] that created the Handy Board [wikipedia.org].
    • We had the little turtle robot back when I learned LOGO.

      In 1981...

      Coming soon to people outside Minnesota? Guess some places are just ahead of the rest of the world ;)
      -
  • With only a CS1 and CS2 under my belt, and having programmed in only Java and VBA, I did a project in school that had me programming a self-navigating robot in C. We had a small processor* with a C compiler and a debugger. I soon augmented the debugger with a row of LEDs wired to one of the registers, so I could debug while the thing was driving around and not hooked up to the computer with the debugger. It should just be kept low level enough that students have to solve their own problems. Its a great way
    • We have a course almost identical to this at RPI. Intro to Embedded Control, where we use an Intel 8051 microprocessor to program a robot to follow a white strip of tape around a course using IR LEDs and sensors. Hell, I remember doing stuff like this 10 years ago with a set of legos at an after school program at a nearby tech HS.

      My intro to CS (I'm actually EE/CSE dual not CS) classes focused on the basic of programming with C++ including how the compiler worked etc, and then got into more complicated
  • by s1axter ( 988646 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @07:07AM (#15711657) Homepage
    See the problem is, robotics is not computer science... it's electrical and computer engineering. Just because you want to bring more people to the dicipline doesn't meen you redefine what the dicipline is
    • Programming is involved in computer science, at least on the lower levels. I don't personally believe that incorporating robotics is sensible with freshmen though.

      Here's the important bit. Whatever you get the kids hooked on up front is what they'll stick with for a long time. Microsoft is doing what many other companies have done before. I'm not sure why they're bothering with robotics now, honestly. When I started in college (1982), some people were thought to be thinking "video game programming!" bu
    • by Alamoth ( 927972 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @07:40AM (#15711804)
      Anyone who thinks that Robotics is not Computer Science has never actually worked with a robot. Robots encompass Mechanical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Computer Science.

      MechE provides the muscles, the bones, the skin, and the structure of the robot.

      CompE provides the nervous system, the veins and arteries, the heart, and the hormones.

      CompSci provides the brain.

      Take any one of these disciplines away and the robot fails.
      • Brilliant. Good quick synopsis. Much of what being taught today in college doesn't belong in only one of the the subfields, whether it be EE, CS, or ME. Instead, a lot of the focus is trying to get students to work across fields, and play with systems integration. This is one of the exciting parts of the RoboCup competition, especially in the small sized league.

        Future work, for both money and glory, will likely require you to be much more than a code monkey, and instead require knowledge of how to create
    • No, you misunderstood... they're actually robotic travelling salesmen. You program them with a turing machine.
    • I always said teaching game programming would be a good way to get students interested and to maintain their interest beyond the classroom. Simple board games can be used to teach data structures and search algorithms. Simple 70's or 80's style arcade games teach real-time methods and basic cooperative multitasking. OOP anyone? The best part is that when the class is over, students are more likely to continue on their own. With a little thought, you can cover most of the CS spectrum using various games.
    • So is it the electrical engineers or computer engineers who program the complex, multi-threaded artificial intelligence applications? I mentored a high school robotics program that participates in the FIRST Robotics competition and I can tell you that the hardware students didn't know or care how to program the robot. They focused on building the robot and the software students focused on programming the behavior of the robot. I'm not saying that there aren't people interested in the hardware and softwar
  • The idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pesc ( 147035 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @07:11AM (#15711670)
    The idea behind the program, Blank said, is to make computer science more hands-on and practical, rather than simply about debugging programs.

    Or maybe the idea is to make sure that the students have to use windows in order to use the robots. MS wants its OS to be used more for embedded and controller applications and have to do something to stop the students from using those small, open, inexpensive Linux systems.

    Or am I wrong? Could the students use the robots and textbooks without MS tech?
  • Throwing chairs (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by cerberusss ( 660701 )
    Microsoft Corp. is working with Bryn Mawr College and Georgia Tech on developing new ways to bring robotics technology into the classroom. Douglas Blank, a computer science professor at Bryn Mawr, said the goal will be to throw chairs with superhuman accuracy.
  • Wasn't LOGO some kind of primitive version of this?
  • As the subject of this reply suggests, Cornell is also getting in the robot game, although I don't think they're collaborating with MSFT in the effort. In fact, I'm signed up for the course right now. The idea had the full endorsement of the campus's top computer science pedagogue, and here's how my advisor explained it to me (I'm a math major): The point of an intro computer science class is to teach you how to write clean programs, independent of what language you're working in. Languages are relative
  • by Alamoth ( 927972 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @07:22AM (#15711713)
    At Lehigh University where I just finished up my B.S. in Computer Engineering I was able to take part in the creation and infusion of a robotics curriculum into our CompSci department. The response was incredibly positive. When we opened up our course catalogues one semester to find that "Real-Time Vision Processing for Autonomous Robots" would be a course offered along with "Mobile Robotics" and "Robocup" we were ecstatic. Artificial Intelligence has always been a big seller in CompSci departments but it has been theoretical. Imagine taking an entry level course on C++ and not being able to write code on a computer. Theory without application has its limits. Robotics brings practical, observable results to the realm of A.I. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the Engineering School invites prospective students to tour the labs. Part of their tour is the CompSci robotics lab. They are privy to demonstrations of work being done with the Sony AIBO and several other robots that were all made in the labs. Needless to say that the biggest thrill for almost all the prospective students (and especially their parents) are the robots. They are simply enthralled by the thought that at our university we have computers that can (to an extent) think for themselves. Computer Science as a college discipline has come to a point where departments that don't incorporate robotics soon will find their enrollment dwindling!
    • Eh, AI can be applied relatively easily with a little bit of work. When I studied AI, my lecturer created a 2D virtual environment, and we had to write agents in LISP which could explore, gather food (for utiles), stave off predators and do it faster than the agents that other people had written, in a variety of scenarios. Good fun.
      • Good fun indeed. I've done similar projects. However I've always felt that AI that is rooted in an environment that is completely deterministic, such as another computer program, is not as challenging as putting a piece of software into the real world.

        The "predators" you're staving off are also A.I. and therefore have the same limitations and adhere to the same rules. Try programming a robot to go out into the Amazon Jungle and evade true predators that have no hardware limitations on their thinking.

        This
  • I hate Microsoft as much as the next card carrying slashdot reader but I'm glad they're doing this. I'm sure they have a profit motive of some kind, but this funding scheme can't help but to improve the state of education.

    I have to wonder what kind of robots these are that cost so much money however. Robots like this should cost about $100 -$300 tops.


    • There are many of us here who love Microsoft. We just get drowned out by all the one's who do not.

      Just because Microsoft is involved doesn't make this a "scheme" - as if they are up to something evil.

      So Microsoft makes profit, so what. The company that made the components inside the computer you are using made a profit. This morning you got up and ate breakfast - the company that sold the food made a profit. And sometime today you will go potty. The company that made the toilet paper also made a profit.
    • ... can't help but to improve the state of education.

      Depends on whether it's general education or M$ vocational training.

      And don't forget that most of the "funding" is likely to be M$ licenses, pseudo-money that costs M$ nothing. Hardly kudos for that.

      ---

      Keep your options open!

  • I, for one, welcome our Chobits [chobitsdvd.com] overlords... and I'll take a Chii [anime.org.au] model.
  • We had those in my freshman computer enginnering classes. We had these little Rug Warrior robots that we got to program to do crazy things like navigate a maze, measure the area of a room, etc. They were a great introduction not only to the field, but also to a lot of other concepts such as the C language, pointer, and working with registers and drivers.

    sadly, our Computer Science department is moving in the opposite direction. They recently changed the first language they teach freshman from C++ to Jav

  • If their professors think computer science is just about debugging programs then the solution is quite obvious: get new professors. Maybe it's the way the article is written. Maybe it is something being jammed down the faculty's throat by higher ups. Either way, computer science can be taught with absolutely no emphasis on programming at all. Programming itself was the practical application introduced into the mix, and now they are taking that one step further by introducing something that maybe 1 in 100
  • Lack of Interest (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jchawk ( 127686 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:07AM (#15711940) Homepage Journal
    The problem with Computer Science right now is it's not the "hot" field. Most kids going to college are going to college so they can get out and earn a better living then if they didn't go to school...

    The job market for computer science folks is flat right now with respect to new grads... If you don't have 5 years or more experience you are likely to have a difficult time finding a jump off point in the business.

    Honestly I can say I don't help much... It's hard for me to hire grads out of college. They tend to be relatively worthless. They have 0 business experience and can't function without constant supervision. It's easier for me to just go out and hire someone with more experience... Until the job market heats up again and IT people are in demand I think most companies will continue to snipe the best people rather then someone new.

  • how bout they teach debugging programs? Looking at the CS grads I graduated with and a lot of the new grads I interview, they don't need a robot, they need to learn how to write software...

    A new dev that can't follow a stack trace isn't a dev at all... if they had a cool robot, that does us no good at all.
  • Can't you just hear it?

    "Algorithms. Don't talk to me about algorithms."

  • ...Microsoft must be resurrecting Actimates Barney!

    By getting entry-level programmers writing robot code they will be pre-disposed to the Actimates API, and will therefore build micro-borg robots instead of open-source robots.
  • Don't fall for this trick, what are their REAL motives? What will happen if an entire generation of future computer scientists fall pray to human eating/destroying robots? Everyone knows that default programming of any robot includes these very very simple steps:
    1. Find humans.
    2. Kill them all.
    3. Define moment as 3000 milliseconds.
    3. Collect some pretty flowers and enjoy the moment.
    4. Go to 1.
    • Of-course maybe the robots shouldn't have killed ALL the human programmers, because obviously it was a human sympathizer who wrote the above program hoping to CONFUSE the default robot language compiler by introducing an ERROR ERROR ERROR ERROR ERR...

      But another programmer who is not a robot decided to fix the bug in the program, and thus this was created:

      1. Find humans.
      2. Kill them all.
      3. Define moment as 3000 milliseconds.
      4. Eat some brains.
      5. echo Muhahahahahahaha
      6. Collect a large properly formated data
  • Note to self: when talking to the press, don't use complicated technical jargon, like "debugging" :)

    I think what I actually said was "rather than debug a program to make it give the right answer, the students must debug the program to make the robot behave the way they want it to."

    I think many of you will actually like the hardware, software, and curriculum that we are designing. Checkout http://www.roboteducation.org/ [roboteducation.org] and http://pyrorobotics.org/ [pyrorobotics.org] The new version of the software will be based on Pyro, Pytho
  • Call me when they open enrollment to robots.
  • You mean there are schools left that didn't do this 20 years ago? Huh.
  • I'd also like to point out that Brooklyn College is introducing ``Exploring Robotics'' as a ``core'' (specifically for non-CS-majors; more like an upper level basic computers class for everyone). I believe it's planned to use Lego stuff---and it's being offered starting this Fall.

    For majors, there are other options (as in, taking an AI class with a professor who uses robots, or joining a group and programming AIBOs, etc.)
  • Computing science courses could be made more attractive by there being more jobs out there for new CS grads.

    Uhmm... sorry... do I sound bitter?
    Maybe just a little.

  • I sit on the computing science curriculum committee (as the student representative) here, so I've been actively involved with lots of ideas and planning regarding how to increase enrollment and continuance in our CS program. I think introducing robots into the first-year courses is the worst idea yet.

    Why?

    1) Not everyone who's into CS is interested in robots. I'm as hardcore as CS students come, and I'm not into robots in the slightest.

    2) Robots are fiddly and frustrating. They teach robotics courses here
  • First of all, robots are stupid! I don't mean that they suck (by which I don't mean that they do anything orally), but that they aren't intelligent machines like some people imagine. In fact, robot programming is very tedious and only fun for a select group of individuals.

    I think a better idea would be to include computers instead of robots. I mean, it's a computer science course, right? And before you get on my case about affording computers and whatnot, when we're talking about intro to computer scie

  • Programming robots is not always about code.

    I once asked how industrial robots were controlled. I was thinking cool code, scripting languages. Unfortunately the answer was that they use more of a "macro" approach. They have a human who knows how to do the task the robot will be performing manually move the robot thru the motions and they record it like a macro. Then the robot can just repeat these motions to do the task. The macros may be edited for efficiency of motion, but overall not alot of program
  • When I entered Iowa State as a freshman in 2000, I took Computer E 183X and 184X (I'm pretty sure those are the right numbers) and we had little robots as part of our curriculum (I believe they were Rug Warriors). It was a great project, we made them wall-hug and do all kinds of neat tricks like distance finding with ultrasound.

    Note that the X part of the course names meant experimental- I'm not sure if those courses went mainstream or not, but point is, ISU was checking this stuff out 6 years ago and as a

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