Personal Robots for Computer Science Education

Tucker Balch (Georgia Tech), Stewart Tansley (Microsoft Research)
Location: Marina Ballroom E

Georgia Tech, Bryn Mawr College, and Microsoft Research have joined forces to create a new way of teaching introductory Computer Science. Their effort, the Institute for Personal Robots in Education (IPRE) has developed, robots, software and curricula for first year undergraduate CS courses. An important, core aspect of the approach is that each student has her own robot — an inexpensive item purchased at the university bookstore. The approach has now been used in 4 courses to teach nearly 300 students. We report on our ideas and successes. There will also be a demonstration of the robots we use and the software.

Tucker Balch

Georgia Tech

Tucker Balch is a professor of Interactive Computing and Robotics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned a Bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. at Georgia Tech. Balch was a member of the Robotics faculty at CMU from 1999 to 2001. He has published over 150 technical papers, journal articles, book chapters and books in the areas of robotics, computer vision and machine learning.

Recently, Balch and his colleagues at Bryn Mawr College and Microsoft Research have established the Institute for Personal Robots in Education (IPRE) to investigate and develop robot-centric hardware, software and curricula for education. In particular their effort is focused now on introductory undergraduate Computer Science education. An important core idea is that a personal robot for each student can accelerate and motivate the student to learn.

Balch sleeps only once per week. When he does sleep, he sleeps in a chair.

Stewart Tansley

Microsoft Research

Stewart Tansley is responsible for Robotics and Embedded Devices in External Research & Programs at Microsoft Research. He has a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence applied to Engineering from Loughborough University, UK. He has authored a variety of papers on robotics for education, artificial intelligence and network management, and co-authored a book on software engineering for artificial intelligence.

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