FSE 2017 workshop in Accra

Hello FSE!

What a week! We spent the last few days in Accra with the students of the Accra Institute of Technology (AIT). The AIT Robotics Club invited us to come and teach a workshop on robotics and a seminar on software verification, so we have spent two and a half full days with the students there – some of the funnest days we’ve had all year. We’re exhausted, but not as much as our hard-working students who worked nonstop in order to complete their projects.

A longer post will follow detailing exactly what we worked out, but for now we’d like to share a few highlights with you. Bandwidth is limited, so most of this post is text, but if you want a quick summary… A video speaks more than a thousand words.

  • Day 1, morning: We got to know the students and introduced the robots they build this year. Each robot is a Raspberry Pi Zero mounted on a plywood chassis with two motors and a third wheel to keep balance. They are equipped with ultrasonic and infrared sensors for obstacle avoidance and an LED for basic indication. The students learned about the hardware and how to write drivers for the components. On the side, we gave an interactive seminar on software verification.
  • Day 1, afternoon: The students divided into groups, wired up their robots and began writing drivers for each hardware component. Due to difficulties with hardware, they had the additional challenge of connecting to the Pis using local WiFi hotspots they created on their phones. Nothing’s too difficult for the students of AIT, though! The challenge was overcome.
  • Day 2, morning: The students returned after a hard and long day of work to write drivers for each hardware component. In the end, they had written four different types of hardware driver on their Raspberry Pi and were ready to build applications which used them.
  • Day 2, afternoon: Then each group got one assignment: Use the hardware to create a robotic application. Three projects were available: A remote controlled robot, a line follower, and an autonomous vehicle which drives around while avoiding obstacles. Presto! It worked.
  • Day 3, morning: We discussed with the students plans for next year. It’s important to us to meet your needs, so we gathered ideas for projects and tutorials you would like to see and introduced our upcoming project contest, where you will have the opportunity to propose the project we do with you next year. We also discussed how to write a project proposal and what criteria we will use to rank the proposals we receive. Can’t wait to hear what you want to build!

Two days of incredible accomplishments for the students here! We were so impressed by the Robotics Club and everyone who contributed to the workshop being a success. We’ve learned so much from you and are happy to be seeing you in the next few days and staying in contact until we return next year.

Keep innovating and talk to you soon! Stay tuned for an update with more photos and videos of the things we did in Accra 🙂

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