Robots to make engineering fun for students

AFTER creating working models of “pothole filling” and “servant” bots to teach embedded systems to IIT Bombay students,the institute’s computer science and engineering department is launching an initiative on robotics for students across the country.

Written by Mihika Basu | Published: June 4, 2012 1:54 am

AFTER creating working models of “pothole filling” and “servant” bots to teach embedded systems to IIT Bombay students,the institute’s computer science and engineering department is launching an initiative on robotics for students across the country. Students of engineering colleges will be introduced to a specific problem and they will have to solve it by programming robots designed by faculty at IIT Bombay.

Embedded systems denote the “embedded computers” in electronic gadgets and are found in all modern devices such as automobiles,mobile phones,iPods,washing machines and so on. The aim of the initiative is to make engineering and building embedded systems “fun and exciting” for students.

“In the embedded systems course,we have projects which are completed in six-eight weeks and include working examples of robots which can do ‘jhadu pocha’,(cleaning work),fruit-picking,pothole-filling,autonomous vehicle bots,servant robots and factory automation bots. Each solves a problem picked up from around us. From here,the transition to a ‘real’ machine is not as large as it may otherwise seem. This experience is now being taken to the next level through a national robotics competition where students from across India will participate in theme-wise solving of such problems,” said Prof Kavi Arya of the computer science and engineering department of IIT Bombay.

Registrations will start soon and the participants will be selected after a test,put into groups and each will be trained in the programming of robots. The groups will subsequently compete and the best will be declared winners. “It is only when students solve a problem themselves by using little machines with lights that flash and things that move,that they acquire confidence as embedded systems engineers,” he said.

Now,faculty and students across the country get hands-on experience of working on a robot designed by IIT Bombay through ‘E-Yantra’ workshops,for free. The ‘E-Yantra’ project,funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD),is a part of the National Mission on Education using ICT. It enables students to use robots to experiment with practical solutions to engineering problems and focus on the problem without worrying about things going wrong and breaking expensive robots. The competition is meant to scale up these efforts significantly.

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