New “RoboSlam for Facilitators” Workshop

Ted, Damon, and I have been gearing up for future RoboSlam workshops.   We have been looking for sponsors to help us continue and scale up our work.  For now, we’ll have to keep things fairly small and simple.  We’re not letting the lack of funds hold us back too much!  We’ve got to keep our momentum going!

During my Fulbright fellowship, I had several official projects. Along the way, I adopted a number of other projects–like RoboSlam–where I could learn and also contribute.

Ted and Damon are so talented and passionate about what they do that it’s impossible not to want to contribute to the success of their project.

While I was away studying in Rome, Ted and Damon hosted a workshop for people we hope will want to become facilitators of RoboSlam.  It’s part of our strategy for getting more people involved in the project.

RoboSlam–Extended Version

Yesterday the students who built robots with the crew coordinated by Drs. Ted Burke and Damon Berry headed over to DIT’s Bolton Street location to learn about mechanical, industrial, and product design. Thanks to Kevin Delaney, Ger Reilly, Susan O’Shaughnessy and crew for a fascinating day! I’ll be posting lots more photos of RoboSlam in the days to come.  It’s been such fun!

Group-Based Learning in Action

I’m becoming a bigger and bigger believer in collaborative learning!  Last semester I did lot of research about how engineering professors (i.e., lecturers) here at Dublin Institute of Technology worked together to develop new ways of teaching electrical engineers.  I was amazed to discover how incredibly much they learned by working together.

Such impressive knowledge gain is the premise behind Project-Based Learning and other group-based learning formats.

Orla and Shannon in the throws of course planning.

Orla and Shannon in the throws of course planning.

My day today was filled with meetings about collaborative research and teaching projects.

With the help of five different tech guys, I got SPSS up and running so that I will be able to help analyze data on that Mike Murphy and I collected from engineering and engineering technology students. We asked them what they saw themselves doing in the future, how well prepared they feel to start work, and what kinds of things they’ve focused their efforts on over the past few years.

After lunch I met with Orla Hanratty of DIT’s Learning, Teaching and Technology Centre (LTTC) and introduced her to Brian Bowe. She’ll be co-teaching a course (i.e., module) with us in May.  We aim to increase the usage and visibility of Problem-Based Learning at DIT by teaching more teachers to use Problem-Based Learning in their own classrooms.

And now, tonight, I’ve been working on a proposal for funding with Ted Burke and Damon Berry.  It’s an opportunity that the college’s head of research, Marek Rebow, told me about yesterday and it has to be completed immediately.

I rallied the troops. Ted drafted some text. Then Damon and I were adding our own contributions to it using Google Docs.  It was so strange… Damon and me editing the same document at the same time.  It turned into a bit of an academic chat session.  We tossed ideas back and forth, discussing budget, objectives, and ways to improve what we’ve already got in place.

We’ll do more of that tomorrow, when the three of us meet to hash this out… and have some fun learning in the process.

Ready to Oink at the RoboSlam

Dave Dorran working with students at the mid-semester trials for RoboSumo, March 2012. (Photo by Shannon Chance.)

Dave Dorran working with students at the mid-semester trials for RoboSumo, March 2012. (Photo by Shannon Chance.)

Regarding my prior RoboSumo blog, Ted did read it and he wrote back:

Hi Shannon,

Thanks for writing about RoboSumo on your blog – that was a very pleasant surprise!!

As you anticipated, I do have an updated list of people currently tutoring on RoboSumo:

  • David Dorran
  • Richard Hayes
  • Ted Burke
  • John McGrory

Although Damon Berry isn’t currently tutoring on the module, he remains closely involved in the broader DIT RoboSumo enterprise. For example, he and I travelled to Galway with the DIT student team on Saturday 19th January to take part in the National Intervarsity RoboSumo competition. And of course, Damon and I are still developing our “RoboSlam” begginers’ workshop for promoting engineering/programming/robotics, which we will hopefully be running again soon within DIT with an assorted cohort of guinea pigs (engineers, teachers, non-engineers, regular people, etc). Expect a call.

Ted

Dr. Ted Burke
School of Electrical Engineering Systems
Dublin Institute of Technology
Kevin St.
Dublin 8
Ireland
Richard Hayes leading the 2012 RoboSumo trials. (Photo by Shannon Chance, March 2012.)

Richard Hayes leading the 2012 RoboSumo trials. (Photo by Shannon Chance, March 2012.)

_______________

To which I replied:
Oink, oink!  I’m ready!
I’ll update the blog shortly….

Shannon
_______________
But alas, Ted is always a stickler for details. I think he must be a brilliant engineer because he’s creative as well. Anyway, Ted said:
…On a minor point of information, I have it on good authority that guinea pigs chut, chubble, wheeeek and rumble but they don’t oink. Evidently, before we can meaningfully assess the strengths and weaknesses of our workshop, we’ll have to familiarise all our subjects with the basic vocabulary they’ll be using!  Ted
_______________
Me:
Oh.  But, architects oink!
Did you think I was a pig????
😉

Damon Berry advising a student at RoboSumo. (Photo by Shannon Chance, March 2012.)

Damon Berry advising a student at RoboSumo. (Photo by Shannon Chance, March 2012.)

_______________

Ted:
LOLzers. Of course – how silly of me!

RoboSumo at DIT

RoboSumo video is available to view at by clicking here.

A video of a past RoboSumo competition is available to view at by clicking here. The competition is just getting underway now for this year… in fact, there’s still time to register for the DIT class!

One of the things I have been studying here in Dublin is the use of hands-on projects to teach engineering. One example is a very popular electrical engineering course at DIT called RoboSumo.

People who teach this course include Ted Burke, David Dorran, and Damon Berry. Richard Hayes tends to show up at RoboSumo events, too, as do many of the other lecturers. (Ted’s probably going to read this and he’ll likely send me and update of who’s teaching “on the module” this semester so I can tweak my list — I know mine isn’t complete. By the way, I appreciate having you in my audience, Ted!)

Suffice it to say, the whole program gets jazzed up about RoboSumo events. Even the Dean (Dr. Mike Murphy) can be seen in the video of the final competition.

There’s a bit of information about the class on line. The General Rules page explains:

Two robots compete in each bout, each trying to stay in the arena longer than the other robot. Robots are encouraged but not obliged to actively push their opponent out of the arena. … The bout ends either when a robot leaves the arena or once 1 minute has elapsed, whichever occurs first. If only one robot remains in the arena at the end of the bout, that robot is the winner.