Robots to dance the do-si-do

The SIGCSE Symposium is mostly about sharing ideas for computer science education and evaluating different curricula. But this year, the organizers are aiming to make it just a bit more fun, with a robot hoedown and rodeo.

Conference participants, most of whom are computer science professors or teachers, will get to program a diverse collection of robots.

“We are currently lookin’ for Robot Wranglers, or in non-Texas parlance, people or organizations who would like to exhibit their robots and open their platforms up for programming by SIGCSE participants,” say the organizers.

“You do not need to be the original designer of the robot hardware to be a wrangler or form a wranglin’ team.  We invite anyone with a posse of robots and an inclination to educatin’ others to respond!”

About a dozen faculty and researchers – known as ‘ranch hands’ – from academia and industry will bring more than 50 of their own robots along and write programs for two kinds of challenges.

In the Hoedown, the robots will be programmed to dance along to a short country music clip – The Chicken Coop Shuffle.

In the Rodeo, they’ll try some themed challenges tailored to the individual sizes, shapes and abilities of the robots.

“We’re really excited about giving those computer science educators who have never programmed a robot before the opportunity to do so, particularly since many robots are becoming both easier to use and more affordable,” says organizer Dr Jennifer Kay.