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This paper describes a one-year introductory robotics course sequence focusing on computational aspects of robotics for third- and fourth-year students. The key challenges this curriculum addresses are scalability, i.e., how to teach a robotics class with a limited amount of hardware to a large audience,student assessment, i.e., how to assess the students' success on robotic design and programming assignments, and depth versus breadth, i.e., how to down-select content from the interdisciplinary field of robotics to computer science students. This is achieved by combining simulation-based laboratory assignments, which can be conducted anywhere and anytime, with compatible hardware devices that allow a seamless transition from simulation to real hardware, and a focus on performance-based assessment with an open-ended final project/competition. Content learning and retention is assessed for a subset of students who successfully went through the proposed curriculum. All class materials as well as hardware-in particular, a low-cost, highly articulated robotic arm developed for teaching advanced robotics concepts-are open-source and available online.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013