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Using Robotics to Teach Computer Programming & AI Concepts to Engineering Students

AAAI Conferences

Many ABET approved engineering programs contain but a single credit hour of "programming" classes. In many situations, that programming class does not even include a general purpose programming language but instead concentrates on MathCAD or even Excel. In the opinions expressed by many of these engineering students, programming is considered hard and unnatural. Over the past few years we have introduced robotic projects into the introductory engineering classes and into several of the engineering lab classes (measurements, controls, etc.). The robots being designed and built are centered around KISS Institute for Practical Robotics' Botball robot kit. The robots are programmed in IC4 (KIPR 2002) an interactive environment that uses a subset of the C programming language. This paper will present some of the curriculum material and projects that are used in these classes as well as an informal analysis of the impact this methodology has had on the students. In addition, we will discuss how the Collegiate Botball contest is being used to keep these students programming once they are done with their required hour of programming class.


A 20-Year Community Roadmap for Artificial Intelligence Research in the US

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Decades of research in artificial intelligence (AI) have produced formidable technologies that are providing immense benefit to industry, government, and society. AI systems can now translate across multiple languages, identify objects in images and video, streamline manufacturing processes, and control cars. The deployment of AI systems has not only created a trillion-dollar industry that is projected to quadruple in three years, but has also exposed the need to make AI systems fair, explainable, trustworthy, and secure. Future AI systems will rightfully be expected to reason effectively about the world in which they (and people) operate, handling complex tasks and responsibilities effectively and ethically, engaging in meaningful communication, and improving their awareness through experience. Achieving the full potential of AI technologies poses research challenges that require a radical transformation of the AI research enterprise, facilitated by significant and sustained investment. These are the major recommendations of a recent community effort coordinated by the Computing Community Consortium and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence to formulate a Roadmap for AI research and development over the next two decades.


Using Science Fiction in Teaching Artificial Intelligence

AAAI Conferences

Many factors are blamed for the decreasing enrollments in computer science and engineering programs in the U.S., including the dot-com economic bust and the increase in the use of "offshore" programming labor. One major factor is also the lack of bold new vision and excitement about computer science, which thus results in a view of computer science as a field wedded to routine programming. To address this concern, we have focused on science fiction as a means to generate excitement about Artificial Intelligence, and thus in turn in Computer Science and Engineering. In particular, since the Fall of 2006, we have used science fiction in teaching Artificial Intelligence to undergraduate students at the University of Southern California (USC), in teaching activities ranging from an undergraduate upper division class in computer science to a semester-long freshman seminar for nonengineering students to micro-seminars during the welcome week. As an interdisciplinary team of scholar/instructors, our goal has been to use science fiction not only in motivating students to learn about AI, but also to use science fiction in understanding fundamental issues that arise at the intersection of technology and culture, as well as to provide students with a more creative and well-rounded course that provided a big picture view of computer science. This paper outlines the courses taught using this theme, provides an overview of our classroom teaching techniques in using science fiction, and discusses some of the lectures in more detail as exemplars. We conclude with feedback received, lessons learned and impact on both the computer science students and noncomputer-science (and non-engineering) students. "Science fiction like Star Trek is not only good fun, but serves a serious purpose, that of expanding human imagination" Physicist Stephen Hawking (from (Krauss 1995))


Using Artificial Intelligence to Help Bridge Students from High School to College

AAAI Conferences

This paper describes work from the Bridges to Computing project at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. This project focuses on the transition from high school to college with the intention of encouraging more students to study some aspect of computer science. The Bridges project has both introduced new undergraduate courses into our computer science curriculum and revised existing courses, as well as developed activities for high school students to help better prepare them for college-level computer science. Here, we report on the use of ideas from artificial intelligence implemented within several of these interventions.


Educational Robotics in Brooklyn

AAAI Conferences

We describe a number of efforts to engage university students with robotics through teaching and outreach. Teaching runs the gamut from undergraduate introductory computer science to graduate-level artificial intelligence courses. Outreach involves collaborations between students and New York City public school classrooms. Our efforts have always involved team-based projects that culminate in demonstrations or competitions, usually based on challenges from RoboCupJunior. Several research projects have followed from these initiatives. Here, we relate some lessons learned and outline new research avenues that we are pursuing to overcome some of the issues.