Summer Workshops 2008

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>= IPRE Summer Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement Workshops =

This page will contain details of the IPRE Summer Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement Workshops.

  • Workshop I, at Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia, PA. June 11, 12, and 13.
  • Workshop II, at GATech, Atlanta, GA. July 7, 8, and 9.

You can watch this page by making an account, logging in, and "watching" this page for changes.



  1. Douglas Blank, IPRE & Bryn Mawr College
  2. Deepak Kumar, IPRE & Bryn Mawr College
  3. Keith O'Hara, IPRE & Georgia Institute of Technology
  4. Jay Summet, IPRE & Georgia Institute of Technology

Teaching Assistants

  1. Kerstin Baer, Bryn Mawr College
  2. Rebecca Rebhuhn-Glanz, Bryn Mawr College
  3. Meena Seralathan, Bryn Mawr College
  4. Teyvonia Thomas, Bryn Mawr College

Workshop Materials

  1. Internet Access: You will receive an ID and password with which to login to access the Internet. You will be able to use the wireless all over campus, including your dorm rooms, classrooms, and the labs.
  2. Hardware: We will use the Scribbler Robot Kit which includes the Scribbler Robot, the Fluke dongle, a USB Bluetooth dongle, and a game pad controller. You will get to take the kit with you.
  3. Software: The software (CD will be included in the kit) includes Python (version 2.4) + Myro. The software works on Windows/Mac/Linux. It will be installed on all lab computers. We recommend that you bring your own laptop so you will be able to install Myro on it and also test drive and use the robot kit on it. This is what you will have to do when you use the materials at your home base.
  4. Text: Learning Computing with Robots, edited by Deepak Kumar. The text is available online. A printed copy will be provided for you to keep.
  5. Other: We will also give you additional materials, handouts, assessment forms, etc. as needed.

Dorm rooms come completely furnished.

Tentative Schedule

IPRE Faculty Workshop on Personal Robots

June 11-13, 2008, Bryn Mawr College

Tentative Schedule

Tuesday, June 10

Arrive Tuesday evening. Check-in desk will be open at Haffner Hall. Once you have finalized your travel, please let us know so we can ensure that you will be able to get your ook keys etc. See directions below in Travel Logistics.

5:00 ???p Meet and greet Happy Hour at Gullifty's (5-10 min walk from campus).

Gullifty's is located at 1140 East Lancaster Ave. in Bryn Mawr. This will be a pay as you go. Gullifty's also has a full menu for those who would like to make it a dinner. It is a casual place. Depending on the weather we will either be on the outside patio or downstairs in the bar/lounge area. Deepak (or someone like him) will be wearing a bright Hawaiian shirt, so look for him.

Wednesday, June 11

Breakfast at Haffner Hall
9:00 9:30a Registration, Introductions, and Workshop Logistics - Room 349
9:30 10:15a Overview (Doug) - Room 349 Slides
10:15 10:45a Lab Session: Scribbler Robots - Hands-on (All) - Room 231
10:45 11:00a Break - Refreshments available outside Room 231
11:00 12:00n Hands-on Lab Session + Basic Python (Jay) - Room 231
 Handouts Media:Intro1.ppt Media:Intro2.ppt
12:00 1:30p Lunch at Haffner Hall
1:30 2:00p Robot Control Paradigms (Deepak) - Room 349
Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination
2:00 3:00p Hands-on Lab Session - Room 231
3:00 3:15p Break Refreshments available outside Room 349
3:15 4:00p Advanced Python + Myro (Keith) - Room 349 Media:advanced_python.ppt
4:00 4:30p Myro Install on your own laptops - Room 231
4:30 5:00p Discussion - Room 349
Evening Dinner at Haffner Hall or on your own. Consult local organizers for suggestions/excursions.

Thursday, June 12

Breakfast at Haffner Hall
9:00 10:00a Graphics (Deepak) - Room 349<BR>Program/Data files: Media:CirclesPY.txt, Media:BouncePY.txt, Media:MapStatePY.txt, Media:QueuesPY.txt, Media:RedBluePY.txt, Media:SearchPY.txt, Media:StateGraphPY.txt, Media:StateGraph.txt, Media:Election2004.txt, Media:USMapData.txt
10:00 10:30a Lab Session - Room 231
10:30 10:45a Break - Refreshments available outside Room 231
10:45 11:30a Lab Session - Room 321
11:30 12:00n Demonstrations of Lab work - Room 231
12:00 1:30p Lunch at Haffner Hall
1:30 2:30p Image Processing & Vision (Keith) - Room 349 Slides
2:30 3:00p Discussion - Room 349
3:00 3:15p Break - Refreshments available outside Room 349
3:15 5:00p Lab Session + Idea Session (Projects) - Room 231
6:00 ??? Picnic in the gardens near Haffner Hall (indoors in Dorothy Vernon Room in case of rain)

Friday, June 13

Breakfast at Haffner Hall
9:00 10:00a Course Planning, Assessment, Support (Jay) - Room 349
10:00 10:30a Lab Session (preparation for final demos) - Room 231
10:30 10:45a Break - Refreshments available outside Room 231
10:45 12:00n Group Project Presentations, Wrap up - Room 231

Participants (Invited)

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States represented at the Workshops<br>Red: Georgia Tech Workshop <br> Blue: Bryn Mawr Workshop<br> Purple: Both<br>Plus Canada & Thailand.<br>Map produced using Myro.
  1. Iyad A. Ajwa, Ashland University [confirmed]
  2. Jim Aman, Saint Xavier University [confirmed]
  3. M. Q. "Sumon" Azhar, Brooklyn College, CUNY [confirmed]
  4. George Berg, University at Albany, SUNY [confirmed]
  5. Dennis J Bouvier, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville [confirmed]
  6. Matt Brenner, Phillips Exeter Academy [confirmed]
  7. Bill Campbell, University of Massachusetts, Boston [confirmed]
  8. John Dougherty, Haverford College [confirmed]
  9. Jeanne Douglas, University of Vermont [confirmed]
  10. Tracy Ann Hardin-Rogers, Westside High School [confirmed]
  11. James Heliotis, Rochester Institute of Technology [confirmed]
  12. Paul F. Hemler, Hampden-Sydney College [confirmed]
  13. Bob Husson, Craven Community College [confirmed]
  14. Lubomir Ivanov, Iona College [confirmed]
  15. Yanxia Jia, Arcadia University [confirmed]
  16. Jennifer Kay, Rowan University [confirmed]
  17. Hans Koomen, University of Rochester [confirmed]
  18. Doug Maurer, Faith Christian Academy [confirmed]
  19. Lisa Meeden, Swarthmore College [confirmed]
  20. David Middleton, Arkansas Tech University [confirmed]
  21. Ananya Misra, Princeton University [confirmed]
  22. John Morrison, North Carolina School of Sci and Math [Veni, Vidi, Codexi]
  23. Ted Pawlicki, University of Rochester [confirmed]
  24. Mark Russo, Haddonfield Memorial High School [confirmed]
  25. Robert J Schiaffino, Iona College [confirmed]
  26. Dick Whalen, The College of Southern Maryland [confirmed]

Travel Logistics

  1. You will be staying at Haffner Hall which is one of the residence halls on the campus, Bldg. 30 on Campus Map.
  2. There is wireless available all over campus. You will receive wifi info when you check in at Haffner Hall.
  3. The workshop will be held in Room 349 Park Science building and in the Lab 231 in Park Science Building (Bldg 13 on Campus Map).
  4. There is plenty of parking available, both near the dorm and the Park Science Building. If a pass is needed it will be included in your check-in packet.
  5. General directions for visiting Bryn Mawr (By car, train, or air) including downloadable maps are here here. The directions bring you to Visitor Lot which is near Haffner Hall.
  6. SEPTA Regional Train: The Bryn Mawr station is serviced by SEPTA R5 trains. See SEPTA's web site for schedules and other info.
  7. Coming by Amtrak: For those who'd like to take the train, get off at Amtrak 30th Street Station in Phila. Then take the R5 (paoli/Thorndale/Downingtown) train to Bryn Mawr. It is a 20 min ride from 30th St to Bryn Mawr.
  8. Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is the primary airport for the Delaware Valley.
  9. Additional directions (PHL to Bryn Mawr): You can take the SEPTA Train from the Airport to Bryn Mawr. From the Airport you will take the train to 30th Street Station (15 min) and then change to R5 (Paoli/Thorndale/Downingtown Line) and get off at Bryn Mawr (20 min). As you descend from the train, walk straight, through the traffic light on Montgomery Ave. After the light, turn left on Yarrow Street. You will see Haffner Hall (two-storey red-brick building with columns on top with holes) down the street on your right. Total distance from train to Haffner Hall is less than 200 yds).
  10. Alternate directions from PHL: You can reserve a van/limo service to bring you here (see Campus Map/Directions link above). You will be dropped off at Wyndham Hall which is next door to Haffner.
  11. Walking/Driving directions to Gullifty's: You can get to Lancaster Ave. from Haffner by going through/under the Bryn Mawr Train Station. Once on Lancaster Ave. Turn right and walk 5-6 blocks. Gullifty's is on the right. Next door to Border's Books.
  12. Walking/Driving directions to Gullifty's Take Two: Follow Merion Ave (front of Haffner) as it curves west and south. Cross Traffic Light at Montgomery Ave. Go over railroad bridge. Turn right at the Fire Station on Lancaster Ave. Go 3-4 blocks to Gullifty's.
  13. Walking only directions to Gullifty's: Follow Merion Ave (front of Haffner) as it curves west and south. At the traffic light on Montgomery, turn right. At the next light, turn left on Roberts Road (this is one way going the other way for cars). Walk under the railroad bridge. As you emerge from under the bridge, turn right on the little path on the side of the garage. You will emerge in the lot of a cra repair shop. Look straight ahead and you will see a Dominoe's Pizza. Walk towards it, as you get close to it, you will see the Borders in the big parking lot and Gullifty's next to it.
  14. For those in need of morning Starbucks: There is one within 5 min walk from Haffner on the corner of Lancaster Ave & Morris Ave. on the other side of the Train Station. Walk to the train station, go under using the walkway. You will see a SUNOCO gas station at the traffic light. Starbucks across the street from it.
  15. Campus Center Cafe & bookstore: Half way between Haffner and Park Science Building is the Campus Center Bldg. which has a nice lounge and cafe (probably better coffee than Haffner though food in Bryn Mawr dorms is VERY highly rated). On the lower level there is a campus bookstore (interesting 5 min or longer browse). There is also a post office and an ATM there.


You can now visit: Flickr to see pictures from the workshop. if you all have more picture, send them to us and we'll add them to the Flickr album.


How do you grade an open-ended robot assignment?

Morrison(ncmathsadist) We use the "five point scale"

  1. - stops a speeding bullet in its teeth
  2. - meets specs and is correct
  3. - locally correct some problems
  4. - you got a start but didn't get very far
  5. - Uh, c'mon....???.....

A 4 is an A-/B+

How do you move to Java?

Morrison(ncmathsadist): Our first-year programming sequence lasts two trimesters. The first trimester is functional and procedural programming in Python. We want our studetns to learn to write short, correct procedures and to write test harnesses for the procedures. In the final project, we encourage them to "go bananas" and push what they know to the limit. We don't expect perfection. We look for creativity and a willingness to acquire and apply new ideas as a part of the project.

In the second term, we begin by using DrJava so we don't have to see static, void and String[]. We translate what is learned in Python to Java. We compare and contrast the lanagues. The first project is usually the writing of a simple class. Looping, forking, and the models of encapsulation are compared and contrasted and the students quickly gain skill with Java. At this time, they are mostly learning new grammar and new ways of representing already-familiar concepts.

I am writing "the Java Book that doesn't Suck" (a student's suggestion) and have a chapter on this partially developed.

How do you use robots in just 3 weeks? Is it possible?

[sumon azhar] I think that it is possible. I personally used suveyor robots for my CS1 class (to teach C++). Two labs were designed and developed to finish in class with in two weeks. The class met twice a week for 100 minutes. So, robots were only used for four sessions. I left one week as a backup in case something goes wrong. To our surprise, everything went smoothly and I did not have to use the third week. It is important to note that, students are only allowed to use those robots in class as each robot costs us $300+.

Couple of things:

1) Hardware/Software: CS1 Students can/should not spend any time dealing with robot hardware issues. Robust robot software and good hardware will be needed to achieve it.

2) Class size and Lab Time: Small class size (less than 16) is preferable if you are the only instructor and you only have three weeks to use those robots. There must be sufficient lab time. Please always create labs keeping the trouble shooting time in mind.

3) Curriculum Development: I like the model of giving students to start with a working program. Then extend or modify the program followed by creating their own program. Labs were tested throughly before they were given in the classroom. Labs are based on previous labs. We develop our C++ Software for surveyor robots keeping CS1 in mind. Integrating robotics into one's curriculum and using them in context is the key.

4) Just in time introduction to robots: If you are only using robots for three weeks, the question remains: "when do you introduce/use robots during the semester". I introduced the hands-on robots in the middle of the semester. I was really concerned not to overwhelm my students with too much learning. Because dealing with robots require dealing with two devices(i.e., robot and a computer) instead of one. I made sure that my students were comfortable with programming (i.e., compiling and running) with one device (i.e., computer). Also, I only had the plan to use the robots for two/three weeks and I had to teach C++.

That being said, as everyone's classroom environment and students are different everyone has to take other factors into consideration if needed.

If you are interested, both our surveyor robot software and curriculum (i.e., two labs) can be found in our robotics repository. There is a link to my class website from there if you want to get an idea how it was integrated to our CS1 syllabus. Please note that the labs contents could be customized to use with other robots. I will be working towards a myro version for these labs.

Obviously, given the possibility of lending or ownership of cheap robots open up the possibility of doing more in three weeks.

--Sumon 22:21, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

How much to expose to HS students?

We do an "early objects" development of Java. We start interfaces and inheritance early and we do a lot with GUI apps.

What do we want to see coming into college?

How can I adapt this to my course?

Support? What to do when things go bad?


How much time do students spend on CS topics?

What model to use to deploy robots?

When will robots be available (for Fall for adopters)?

Instructor only resources?

Code Developed at the Workshop

Add the code for your demos here!!

Note, save the files as pyw files. For example, turn "" into "myCoolCode.pyw" before adding.

The fox and hound demo group

George Berg, Matt Brenner, James Heliotis, & Jennie Kay

We built two systems.

The first controls a robot's movement on its own or using the game controller. We used a subsumption architecture; the game controller overrides the robot's autonomous mode. In autonomous mode, the robot does wall avoidance. The system is runnable at two speeds based on a button press from the game controller. Here's the file: Media:roam_or_control.pyw The file contains several classes including a general arbitrator for the subsumption architecture that should be put into its own file, but we did not figure out how to have separate files that all import myro.

The second robot tracks an "aibo ball" that's sitting on the first robot. We used the blob vision system to do the tracking. The robot first acquires the ball by simply turning left until it finds it. Then it says "look out here I come." Other diagnostics include the word "ha" that the robot boasts when it "catches" the other robot and "I'm all done" after two minutes have completed. Here's the file: Media:aibo_ball_tracker.pyw