U of T Mississauga students get hands-on experience in the new robotics education lab

U of T Mississauga students get hands-on experience in the new robotics education lab

Laura Maldonado She describes her first day learning at the Undergraduate Robotics Teaching Lab at U of T Mississauga.

“It’s a really cool place,” she says, as she takes out her phone to show a video of one of the lab robots in action. “We actually play with these robots and get hands-on experience.”

The computer science student was among the first group of undergraduates in a third-year robotics basics class to use the new lab, which officially opened its doors on September 7.

Jessica Burgener KarsThe associate professor in the Mathematical and Computational Sciences Department who led the creation of the lab said the lab will be used primarily for computer science students taking courses in robotics in their third and fourth year.

However, the lab will also be accessible to the broader U of T community — including graduate students in computer science, mechanical engineering and space studies, says Burgner-Kars, who is cross-appointed in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. and industrial in the College of Applied Sciences and Engineering. He is the founding director of Continium Robotics Lab.

She adds that it will also be a resource for U of T Robotics InstituteWhere she works as an assistant manager.

“I am very, very grateful that we now have this teaching lab for students, and you can tell by the students’ faces how happy they are,” she says. “I think it’s, by far, the most modern teaching lab I’ve seen anywhere in Canada.”

Burgner-Kars, who teaches the “Fundamentals of Robotics” class in Maldonado, says the lab includes revolutionary types of robots called “robots” or “collaborative robots,” which have multiple moving joints and safety sensors so they can safely interact with humans. She says these types of robots have become more prevalent in recent years.

“They are more used in collaborative tasks, where humans and robots work side by side (with each other),” Burgner-Kars explains, adding that they can be used to automate some tasks or perform more precise tasks. “Robot engineering is one of the fastest growing job markets, and all these new jobs will necessitate learning about these collaborative robots. Our students will set an edge in the job market.”

Sven LiljThe lab provides a rare opportunity for undergraduate students to learn how robotics works through hands-on experience, says a doctoral student and teaching assistant in the Fundamentals of Robotics course. “What is really unique is that we have the ability for all of our students in our class, who are more than 60 students, to work hands-on with a robot,” he says. “It really is a game changer.”

Maldonado says the lab also helps her apply learning from previous math courses — a subject she admits isn’t her strongest subject.

“I was thinking, ‘Why do we learn linear algebra?'” Why learn calculus? What is the purpose of this? “Now, I understand that I need to know how the robot moves. I want to understand the three dimensions. I can see him physically with the robot.”

Maldonado adds that she feels lucky to be able to use the robotics lab during her university studies.

“The only way[students before me]were to really work on robotic materials was if they had got research jobs, or maybe they tried to get some training — which is hard if you don’t have physical experience,” she says. “Now, we get that hands-on experience. . I think it’s a privilege.”

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