Demystifying robotics

Issue date: 26 January 2012


The project team

Six groups of students from UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol have created a series of exciting prototypes to engage the next generation in robotics.

They will present them at an event today (Thursday 26 January) to a group of invited guests including several companies, such as BBC, IBM, HP, Microsoft and IPL and local universities at the Watershed, Bristol.

The university students have been working with pupils from a local secondary school, Nailsea School, who have been acting as stakeholders for the novel products being developed by the students. The aim of the product is to demystify robotic concepts for children.

The project, a collaboration between UWE Bristol, the University of Bristol and the Watershed, is to highlight the expertise in creative technologies in the South West. Third year UWE BSC Product Design students and MSc Computer Science students from the University of Bristol have come together to combine their skills to develop novel products that will excite and teach a new generation about robotic concepts.

Dr Kirsten Cater, Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bristol and one of the leaders on the project, said, “Back in the 1980's the BBC Micro excited a generation of children into understanding the IT revolution and it is this generation that has been responsible for the UK's success in the games industry. Its accessibility, simplicity and popularity sparked the imagination of thousands to develop their own programs and games.

“Looking back these same inquisitive children would take a clock apart to study the mechanism inside and learn how it works. However today's consumer electronics aren't so accessible. An ability to see and understand how computers work has become obscured by their sophistication and children can only assume everything just works, like magic. Robotics is a great field to get children interested in because there are so many options for further study and exploration.”

Robotics encompasses multiple disciplines, including mechanical engineering, software programming, electronics, and human psychology.

Kurt Gauss, Associate Head of Department in Engineering Design and Mathematics added, “It has been a fantastic opportunity for multidisciplinary collaboration and great working with the University of Bristol Computer Science Master's students and the Pervasive Media Studio on this co-project. The students have come up with some great designs. Most of the projects used compound learning principles, in which through play and social interface, the operational principles of computers and robots could begin to be understood."

Kurt Gauss, David Henshall, Senior Lecturer in Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol and Dr Kirsten Cater at University of Bristol, are leading the project.

For more information on studying Product Design Technology at UWE Bristol see: http://courses.uwe.ac.uk/W240


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