by David Geer
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Rose-Hulman Robot Shoot Out
And, the Inception of the Robotics Certificate Program
The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is a four year college which offers
academic majors relevant to robotics including computer science, computer
engineering, software engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical
engineering. The Institute — dubbed the top engineering school by the
U.S. News & World Report survey 10 years’ running — teaches multiple
engineering disciplines using robotics as an educational platform.
Let’s explore what is afoot in the halls of Rose-Hulman!
Through the year, professors Carlotta Berry, Matt
Boutell, David Voltmer, and Dan Moore (and others) teach
computer science, systems design, and a good variety of
courses central to engineering at Rose-Hulman. Many of
the courses use robotics to teach the engineering subject
Some courses at Rose-Hulman use the iRobot Create platform to
teach programming and robotics. This is the same platform the
popular Roomba robot vacuum cleaner is built on. Here, students
work with the Create robot as part of a school project.
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matter, with some culminating in robotics competitions
based on team designs.
Recently, Professor Moore and other Rose-Hulman faculty members involved students in an international robotics
design effort surrounding robotic creations that fired paintballs at red targets. The competition drew local teams in
addition to those from a university in Seoul, South Korea to
scientifically sketch and build the paintball lobbing bots.
The goal (according to Professor Moore) is to channel
students’ enthusiasm and interests together with the
flexibility available in robotics competitions, then add an
underlying pedagogy that will encourage them to learn
how to document their designs.
To create the paintball robots, professors instructed the
students to design and construct a walking robot that could
sense a red target and then fire a pellet at it. “They had to
research the types of actuators and motors to use,” says
Dr. Moore. Students arrived at a quadruped robot with
each leg having its own motorized hip, knee, and foot so
that each leg had three flexibility joints in it.
The quadruped walked towards the target which it had
identified using its onboard camera. When it got within
range of the target and centered itself, the robot squatted
down in front of the target, stabilized itself for firing, then
shot the pellet at the red target.
“All this was accomplished in four months through
collaboration between the paintball robot team here at
Rose-Hulman and the team in South Korea. Each team