— Miguel G-Fierro (@miguelgfierro) December 17, 2015
I am proud of our undergraduate and PhD students who volunteered to do a free robotic workshop series to a very keen and energetic group of students from Newham Sixth Form Collegiate. This series done in the teaching labs of the Department of Informatics, King’s College London will help these students and their teachers to use robotics as a new tool to learn/teach Maths and Physics.
- Hand sketches of some relevant theory of analog and digital signals: PDF
3. Controlling the speed of a DC servo motor in response to sonar sensor readings: PDF
This note is to make sure all undergraduate students who do projects with me are aware of how to do a good project and score high marks too.
Problem statement: First, an undergraduate project aims to give you an opportunity to obtain hands-on experience in design to solve a problem. A high-end project would also have some research element to it. So, you should be very clear about the design problem and about the scientific question to be addressed in the project. Do not have many problems to be solved in an individual final year project, unless it is a group project where different individuals can address different design problems. In essence you should be able to write an email to a friend and explain what you are working on in one sentence. This is your “problem statement”.
Let me take some examples: A problem statement like “Find an energy efficient method to do quality assurance in an already demined landmine field” can lead to a design like this – “Ball that rolls in a mine field”
A problem statement like “Find a solution to avoid neck injuries in women who carry heavy water pails on their heads” can lead to a design like this – “water wheel”
Design approach: I know you are worried about marks. If you solve a problem like the above and show it to the panel without sophisticated math and software, you are not likely to score good marks. If you look closely at above solutions, you might see that the solution required a lot of modeling before the hardware fabrication. You can use design software like Solidworks and simulate dynamics. For instance, in the above water wheel solution, you can model its inertia dynamics and gravity forces and predict the forces experienced by the woman who would be driving it in different slopes and at different speeds. That can help you to decide an upper margin for the capacity of the water drum. First sketch your ideas on a scrapbook, then try to develop very abstract models so that you can write basic equations for them. Then write a simulation code in any language you like (we often use Matlab to simulate dynamic systems), and plot results. For instance, the above ball that rolls in the wind can be modeled like a rimless wheel driven by a random torque give around its hub. You can model wind force by treating the torque as a random variable with a normal distribution around some expected value. Then, you can check the distribution of collision forces for different hub masses and wind conditions. This will allow you to design a ball that can generate enough collision forces to detonate a landmine buried at a reasonable depth, and to know the balls limitations too.
This is where I can guide you if you meet me (your project advisor) frequently. Once a week is recommended.
Documentation: You must not waste any of your intermediate designs on the way to a final solution. Some students show only the thing that worked in their final report. Present all results including your decision tree where you took one choice over the other at different milestones of the design process. Again, meet me at every milestone. I can help you to take a good choice given several options. I recommend you to use a scrapbook as well as saving your work in backup folders.
Dissertation writing: You are given marks for this. No matter how great your engineering was, you could lose marks if you write a bad report. Your documentation can help here. I highly recommend you to get yourself familiarized with Latex dissertation writing from the beginning of your project because for me, a dissertation that involves math looks more professional if it is written in Latex. Moreover, in Latex, you don’t have to worry about formatting. You just use a style file and the compiler will take care of formatting allowing you to focus more on the content. The best way to get used to it would be to keep your notes and documentation in Latex. Learn to write equations, how to insert a figure, how to write a pseudocode/algorithm in Latex without waiting till the last moment.
Organize your results in a methodical way so that your intermediate results can show the lessons you have learned on your way to the final result. Please meet me even during dissertation writing. Please be assured, all those who took these advices scored very high marks (> 80%) and even published papers in conferences, and then got good jobs!
Three PhD students from Department of Informatics, King’s College London, and representatives from the King’s Robotics Society went to Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre (NCS) on 13th July 2015, to talk about how we enjoy math and science through robotics projects. NCS is a school that takes brilliant students from underprivileged areas of East London to prepare them for university entrance. We were told that other schools in this area do not have enough resources to offer a proper Sixth Form education and that the students of NCS come from very challenging backgrounds in East London. We saw an amazing level of energy, enthusiasm, and ambition in these students that one can notice from following pictures.
I then discussed with the head of the department of Informatics about my plans to invite a group of student representatives and math and science teachers from this school to join the laboratory classes for the module – Introduction to Robotics – I teach in the Autumn semester absolutely free of charge. Those interested robotics PhD students and any member in the King’s Robotics Society will volunteer to help me in the lab classes. The trained students and teachers will then start a robotics club in Newham Collegiate of Sixth Form and we will collaborate to develop a new curriculum to teach math and science through robotics projects. And, I got green light!
So, those who wish to volunteer, please contact me, and lets get these kids to perform in par with the country’s best private schools in university entrance exams!
We won a Royal Academy of Engineers (RAE) award to launch a public engagement project networking research engineers developing technologies of humanitarian demining. If you are working in this area, please contribute to the blog following this link.
Thrish had a stimulating panel discussion with Ruairi Glynn (Barlett, UCL) and Shobana Jeyasingh (Choreographer), interviewed by Simon Ings from New Scientist Magazine on the #Trespass human-robot public performance (open today for public from 2-4 pm at the Anatomy Theatre & Museum, 6th floor, King’s Building, Strand Campus, King’s College London – closest subway stations: Temple or Charing Cross):
— Shobana Jeyasingh DC (@SJeyasinghDance) July 2, 2015
Today, children from the East London Science School came to visit the Centre for Robotics Research, Department of Informatics, King’s College London. Our PhD students enjoyed talking to them about the value of learning science and math.
Anuradha successfully defended her thesis this afternoon. Congratulations!
Liza successfully defended her PhD thesis titled “Tactile probing strategies for soft tissue examination”. Congratulations!