Dr Gábor Csányi, a Fellow of Pembroke College and a Reader in Engineering, is spending his summer helping students to design robots.
The Lego Robotics Workshop is run as part of the Pembroke-King’s Programme (PKP). In the workshop sessions, students work in pairs and learn through a process of trial and error, building prototypes using Lego Mindstorm sets.
Gábor explains: ‘The Lego Mindstorms platform is an amazing educational tool. It makes the perfect compromise between ease of use and durability on the one hand, and engineering complexity on the other. We then control the robots using Matlab, which is one of the most widely used industry standard software packages for prototyping and numerical calculation.’
The skills of engineering and programming required to build even a basic robot can be helpful for students living in a world that relies increasingly on automated processes. Gábor adds: ‘Most of the students in the class have little or no previous experience in programming computers, and this course exposes them to the basics of coding without the bore and tedium that a formal course would necessarily impose. It’s great to see the students explore their own technological ideas, solve logical and mechanical problems, and get engaged in such a creative activity.’
The climax of the course was a presentation of the finished robots. You can watch a fifteen-minute video of the session here:
You can see that the students, and their robots, had come a long way since the prototype stage just a few weeks earlier.
For more information on the PKP Lego Robotics course, see the course description on our website.