Educational Robotics

While this is not my main research area it is very close to my heart. I was very much interested in robotics after taking my first robotics course in this field.
I believe that robots can be a good tools to teach programming to beginner. This way the programming comes with real world flavor and the students learn how to program in a multithread environment. Based on my observation parallel programming comes much more naturally to these students.
Robotics is also a good way to motivate undergraduate and graduate students alike to pursue AI and vision.
I have been involved with the SEED (Summer Engineering Experience @Drexel) program at Drexel university for two years teaching simple programming to high school student using Lego RCX kits and Robotics Invention System software.
At PENN I designed and developed the electronics for a very low cost robot which was used for robotics course (MEAM 520). The students received the electronic, on board computer, batteries, motors and a webcam. They had to make their own robot by cutting acrylic sheets with laser cutter. We also provided the students with software to connect to their robot from Matlab, read images from webcam on the robot and send motor commands. Student were supposed to do different vision and kinematics assignment with this platform.