Introduction to Electronics & Robotics Programming (CS130)
Spend a few weeks this summer to learn to program, design and test electronics circuits, while building robots! No prior experience is required in either programming or electronics.
- Design your own robot and compete in challenges
- Build your knowledge and improve your skills in coding, electronics, mechanics and the English language
- Learn to program in 2 computing languages (C, QB64)
- Build & troubleshoot electronic circuits
- Learn to program the popular Arduino μcontroller board
- Design, troubleshoot, compete collectively as a team
- Course credit transfer for other US colleges & Universities
This fast-paced course is taught in English over a period of one month (19 June - 17 July, 9:00-11:30 M-Th) and involves lectures, laboratory sessions and design challenges. It is instructed by a member of the ACT Computer Science faculty with a PhD in Electronics Engineering and Artificial Intelligence.
Who can sign up for this course?
While the course is primarily targeted at 1st year university students and can be taken for transferrable US College credit, top performing older (lyceum) high school students may also apply. In the latter case a strong background in the natural sciences and the English language is required, while a brief interview with the instructor will be arranged prior to enrollment.
Upon completion of the course, students will study and practice:
- the fundamental principles of programming using the C and QB64 programming languages
- the basics of mixed signal electronics, performing experiments with the Arduino microcontroller board
- the fundamentals of robotics: sensors, actuators and mobile robotics programming, using Mindstorms EV3 robotics experimentation kits
- integration of all aforementioned skills and components into their robotic designs, including the skills to troubleshoot, evaluate and improve their mechatronics creations
The course in detail:
The primary difference between robots and other types of computing devices is their ability to have a physical effect on their environment, rather than to simply gather, process and communicate data. In this summer course we explore sensors, microcontrollers and actuators, which are the electronic components that help robots perceive and physically interact with their surroundings. We gradually build our understanding of electronic components and programming from the ground up, with no previous coding experience required.
The course employs experiential learning, iterative design and challenge-oriented teaching to encourage students to hone their critical, analytical, creativity and teamwork design skills. During programming training all students will produce an interactive computer game which includes graphics. The course concludes with a team design competition based on a series of robotics challenges, as well as a scientific slide presentation by each team explaining their design choices to their classmates. Students are encouraged to be creative and original in designing their hardware and programming code.
They are also instructed to find, understand, modify and repurpose code from the internet, combine it with their own and optimize it for their hardware. They study and evaluate designs from other robotics teams and combine the most desirable features with their own hardware design ideas. Proper acknowledgement and citation of original work which has been integrated in the robotic designs is demonstrated by the instructor and required by all teams.
Most of instruction involves experiential learning within a team, multiple design improvement cycles and a series of increasingly challenging targets set by the instructor. Each team prepares a final slide presentation to the rest of the class, listing their achievements, inviting questions and constructive criticism of their designs. Each team subsequently participates in a final robotics challenge competition.
More about the professor:
Dr. Alexander Astaras is Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the American College of Thessaloniki (ACT) and a Research Associate in the Lab of Medical Physics, Dept. of Medicine (AUTH), Greece. He obtained his BA in Physics from Oberlin College, Ohio, USA and his PhD in Electronics and Artificial Intelligence from the Electrical Engineering Dept. of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. He is an Electronics and Biomedical Engineer, the author of more than 35 peer-reviewed publications in these fields. He has designed and tested several prototype electronic chips & supervised numerous undergraduate and MSc theses in biomedical engineering and electronics. He is an active member of the IEEE and the Hellenic Biomedical Engineering Society (ELEVIT). He works in analogue and mixed-signal integrated circuits, system-on-chip and lab-on-chip integration as well as mapping artificial neural networks on silicon. His research interests include biomedical micro-electro-mechanical data acquisition sensors, low power mixed-signal VLSI electronics design, machine learning and medical robotics. He is also interested in using robotics to promote science and engineering in secondary and university level education.
Enrollment for summer 2017 has started.