[robotics-worldwide] Table Of Contents: Special Issue on Novel Approaches to Robotics Education, ASEE Computers in Engineering Education Journal

Joel Esposito esposito at usna.edu
Fri Sep 17 09:35:12 PDT 2010

I am please to announce that the Sept. issue of the ASEE Computers in
Education Journal, which is centered around the  theme of "Novel Approaches
to Robotics Education", has been  published.  The table of contents and the
introduction follow. Copies of the articles are available online to
ASEE-CoEd Members, through subscribing libraries, or in some cases by
contacting the authors directly.

In the future, please consider submitting articles describing  your
pedagogical efforts to ed-pub at crosslink.net Information for authors can be
found here. 

Joel M Esposito, US Naval Academy
VOL.  I  NO. 3  JULY - SEPTEMBER  2010

Introduction, by Esposito

Role of Automated Symbolic Generation of Equations of Motion to Enhance
Robotics Education 
By Shah, Tripathi, Lee and Krovi

Development of a Successful Open-Ended Robotics Design Course at the High
School Level
by Ayanian, Keller, Cappelleri and Kumar 

A Multidisciplinary Robotics Learning Environment: What Mindstorms and DARPA
Urban Challenge Have in Common
by Spencer and Jaksic 

Moving Without Wheels: Educational Experiments in Robot Design and
by Bishop, Esposito and Piepmeier

Teaching Robot Motion Planning
by Moll, Bordeaux and Kavraki 

Peer-To-Peer Learning in Robotics Education: Lessons from a Challenge
Project Class
By Correll and Rus 

Mobile Robotics: A Tool for Application-Based Integration of
Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Concepts and Research
by Berry 

A Novel Lab and Project-Based Learning Introductory Robotics Course
by Cappelleri

Implementation of an Undergraduate Robotics Engineering Curriculum
by Padir, Gennert, Fischer, Michalson and Cobb

A Multidisciplinary Robotics Minor
by Boutell, Berry, Fisher and Chenoweth 

Welcome to the first special issue of Computers in Education, titled Novel
Approaches to Robotics Education!  The ability of robotics to captivate
students is apparent - so much so that nearly every university offers at
least one such course.  However, I conjecture that 75% of the courses
offered world-wide fit into one of two aging molds which I refer to as
"Mindstorms-Mobile" and  "Kinematic-Articulated".    Over the last decade,
robotics research has become incredibly diverse and instructional technology
has evolved considerably begging the question:  How should our educational
approaches evolve accordingly?   

The (Lego) "Mindstorms-Mobile" mold originated in the late 1990's.  At the
risk of over generalizing, these courses tend to focus on designing and
programming mobile robots, and rely less on advanced mathematics (i.e. no
matrix algebra) - making them suited for Sophomores, Freshman, and even
pre-college students.  They are frequently used to generate interest in
engineering careers, and develop teamwork and communication skills.
However, frequently they teach very little in the way of robotics-specific

Several of papers in the issue focuses on  early curriculum robotics as a
subject in its own right.   Ayanian, Keller, Cappelleri, and Kumar, present
an impressive robotics summer school program for high school students, which
goes well beyond Mindstorms.  While, Jaksic and Spenser breathe new life
into the Mindstorm-mold, presenting a novel classroom project inspired by a
contemporary challenge problem - the DARPA Urban Challenge.   

The "Kinematic-Articulated" style course is a kinematics-driven treatment of
serial-chain articulated robots, targeted at senior-level undergraduates or
first year master's students.   The outline typically follows J. J. Craig's
or R. P. Paul's classic texts from the early 1980's: coordinate
transformations, forward and inverse kinematics, and Jacobians with a
sprinkling of joint control, trajectory planning, or computer vision,
depending on the instructor.

Other papers in the issue show how newly available hardware or software can
facilitate the inclusion of topics traditionally assumed to be too difficult
for such a course.  Bishop, Esposito and Piepmeier explore how the
availability of a new kit can facilitate the hands-on exploration of legged
locomotion at the undergraduate level.  Shah, Trupathi, Lee and Krovi
explore a computer aided mathematics and visualization tool for teaching
advanced kinematics of parallel and serial mechanisms.  Moll, Bordeaux and
Kavraki showcase an innovative open-source visualization and development
suite used to teach state-of-the-art topics in robot motion planning. 

At the meta-level perhaps it is time to rethink not just what we teach, but
how we teach it.   Correll and Rus, report on an interesting experiment in
peer-to-peer learning.  Members of their class collectively developed a
complex robotic system, maintained a community wiki and source code
repository and co-authored a paper on their findings.   From a curricular
perspective, at most universities, the first course is typically an elective
housed in the Mechanical or Electrical Engineering or Computer Science
department.  Berry considers the challenge of teaching a course cross listed
in all three departments, with no prerequisites; and Cappelleri wrestles
with the challenge of creating an introductory course which balances the
mobile and articulated approaches.  An interesting new trend is the creation
of Robotics degree programs.  Padir, Gennert, Fischer, Michalson, and Cobb
showcase the United State's first BS in Robotics program at Worster Polytech
Institute.  Likewise, Boutell, Berry, Fisher, and Chenoweth report on their
experiences with Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Robotics Minor

While I'd love to discuss these trends more, you will have to excuse me.  I
have to get started implementing some of these ideas in my own Fall course.

Joel M Esposito
Associate Professor
US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, USA 
July 2010

Assoc. Professor Joel M. Esposito
Dept. of Weapons and Systems Engineering
105 Maryland Ave.  
Annapolis, MD 21402

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