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Preconference Workshops

Preconference classes are designed to give students, teachers, and mentors an opportunity to focus on a specific topic in a one day workshop environment.

Each year the Global Conference offers several different preconference classes on the day prior to the start of official conference activities. 2014 GCER preconference workshops will be held a day before the actual GCER conference on July 29, 2014.

2014 GCER Pre-Conference Classes


Title: Making Sense of Sensors

Instructors: Les Newcastle and Jon Grasmeder

Requirements:
• Some programming experience is preferred, but not required
• Each student must have a laptop with the current KISS-IDE loaded
• Enthusiasm is required

Summary:
This class will introduce students to the fine art of controlling robots using sensors. At the end of the day, the enthusiast student will be able to write a C program for the LINK to control a Create based on sensor inputs. The sensors used will be the Create's bump sensors, tophats, the ET, the camera and, of course, the new depth camera. Using these sensors the student will be able to find walls, follow lines, see colored objects, move towards the colors and stop when they are close enough to touch them.

Fee: $65


Title: Using the Xtion Motion Sensor

Instructors: David Miller and Charles Winton

Requirements:
• Basic knowledge of C programming including: loops, functions, variables and conditions REQUIRED
• Each student must have a laptop with the current KISS-IDE loaded
• Students MUST bring their own KIPR Link and Xtion Sensor (strongly recommend no more than two students per KIPR Link and Xtion Sensor)

Summary:
The Xtion sensor is perhaps both the most powerful, and underutilized, sensor available to Botball teams. If used correctly, it will tell you the location of all robots and all game pieces on the game table. Using the Xtion sensor is, like most things in engineering, all about the math. In this case, the math is all about coordinate transforms. In this workshop, we will go through how to find everything resting on the game table surface, and how to align your robot with a piece of PVC.

Participants should be comfortable with basic concepts in graphing (e.g., the slope of a line), algebra and C programming (including how to make your own functions). The workshop will teach some basic concepts in trigonometry — but prior knowledge of that subject is not required.

Fee: $65


Title: Expressive Robotics: Motion and Emotion

Instructors: Ross Mead, Brian Kohan, Caitlyn Clabaugh

Requirements:
• Moderate understanding of KISS-IDE or the C language
• Familiarity with KISS-C motor and servo commands REQUIRED
• Each student must have a laptop with the current KISS-IDE loaded

Summary:
Robots have been built to perform many interesting tasks. However, the roboticists of tomorrow must not only consider what robots can do, but how they do it. This workshop will start with a discussion of how humans interpret very simple actions in very complex ways and how robots interact with humans. Students will then program a robot to do a simple motion (e.g., go to the end of the hallway and back) while demonstrating a given emotion (e.g., happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust). Students will view the other teams' motions and record what they interpreted it as. This will be followed by a discussion of how professionals shape movement to get certain responses. Finally, teams will utilize what they have learned to create short robot films, which may be shown to the conference audience.

Fee: $65


Title: “What Should I Do?”: Making Smart Robot Decisions On and Off the Game Board

Instructors: Amin Atrash, Ross Mead

Requirements:
• Moderate understanding of the KISS-IDE or the C language
• Familiarity with creating custom C functions in the KISS-IDE
• Each student must have a laptop with the current KISS-IDE loaded

Summary:
While the scoring system in a robot competition promises a variety of numerical rewards for different tasks, the likelihood of successfully completing those tasks must also be considered. This workshop will introduce principled strategies for teams to make decisions about tasks to be performed by their robot entries in a robot competition. To achieve this, teams will be introduced to decision-making based on utility theory, which considers risk vs. reward to evaluate different potential robot strategies. Each robot strategy will first be considered in isolation (like Botball Seeding Rounds), and later reconsidered to maximize success against an opponent (like Botball Double Elimination Rounds). The workshop will introduce a formal mathematical description of the utility theory, as well as simple statistical analysis techniques to determine success rates of robot entries (for both the team and their opponents). Participants will practice these principles by applying them to this year’s Botball game, as well as other robot competitions. The workshop will then show how these strategies can be programmed into the robots themselves to make their own autonomous decisions while performing on the game board. By the end of the workshop, students will have a formal understanding of making decisions about strategy for robot competitions, as well as an understanding of how to make their robots autonomously do the same.

Fee: $65


Title: Learning About Microcontrollers

Instructor: Wesley Myers

Requirements:
• No programming experience needed
• Each student will need a laptop computer
• This class includes a materials fee of $75 in addition to the $65 preconference fee. Participants will be able to keep and reuse the Arduino kit after the session.

Summary:
In this workshop you will learn about the Arduino Uno microcontroller by making some simple circuits that interface with it. No electronics experience is required. This workshop will help you understand a little more about the electronics used in Botball by leading you through hands-on practical exercises where you will implement functional circuits driven by the Arduino Uno. The course will utilize the Sparkfun Inventors Kit, which you will get to keep after the workshop!

Fee: $140

Title: Programming Humanoid Robots for Competition

(By invitation only)

Instructors:

  • Martin Mason, Mt. San Antonio College
  • Aaron Park, ROBOTIS

Description:
Humanoid robots that can interact with human tools and environments are a logical next step in robotics competitions. Humanoid robots also allow for the study of human body structure and behavior and create greater identification between users and robot. This workshop will give participants an opportunity to learn to program a ROBOTIS DARWIN-MINI Robot. Programing will be done in the Open CM programming environment which is a variant of the processing IDE that is used for the Arduino microprocessor. This workshop will start with an overview of humanoid robots and how to do basic low level open loop and closed loop control. It will introduce interfacing basic sensors to the platform and participants will develop a walking gait for their robot. By the end of the workshop, there will be a race competition to see who can program the fastest robot. Post workshop the DARWIN-MINI robots will be available for the participants to develop an autonomous program for an obstacle course competition as part of the Autonomous Showcase on Friday evening.

Prerequisites:

  • Basic understanding of the C language.

Additional Requirements:

  • Each participant will need a laptop computer.

Instructors:

  • Martin Mason is the Chair of the Physics and Engineering Department at Mt. San Antonio College and has been on the faculty there since 2002. He specializes in project based learning and computational modeling in introductory physics and engineering courses. His research areas are primarily in robotics with an emphasis on self-initiation in artificial systems and the development of highly efficient gaits for bipedal robots. He founded and mentors the Mt. SAC robotics team which has won numerous national and international competitions. He is especially pleased to have won the Distinguished Faculty award for outstanding teaching, the President’s Award for Educational Innovation. Mason received his MS in Physics from UC Riverside and an MSc in Robotics from the University of Plymouth.
  • Aaron Park is the Director of ROBOTIS, INC. and Founder of Robot Edutainment. Aaron has been working to develop the next generation of robotics through students in the US. His goal is to encourage and advance the capability and usability of innovative application through the infusion of robotics in STEAM educational curricula and research. He has been actively working with various US research institutions to foster academic excellence and professional development, increase student engagement, and improve learning outcomes. His interest is to educate, equip, and provide others with essential skills in robotics to become successful future inventors and innovators.