In its intent to promote the use of Robotics and Programming as one of the key tools for boosting Innovation in Mauritius, the Mauritius Research Council (MRC) in Collaboration with the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research organised two parallel hands on training workshops, respectively on: (i) Introduction to Electronics and Circuit Building Workshop and (ii) Robot Building and Programming Workshop. These training workshops were delivered by experts from Kidobotikz ltd an Indian company specialised in training students in robotics and automation.
The main objectives of these workshops is to incite young minds to intuitive learning by building and playing with electronics and robots.
2. TARGET AUDIENCE AND VENUE
These workshops were targeted for participants aged between 11- 18 years old (mostly secondary school students) and were held in parallel at the Queen Elizabeth College and the Royal College of Curepipe from the 17th – 20th April 2017. On the 21st April 2017 there was a demonstration and Competition session called the MRC Robot Festival which was held at the Cyber Tower I in Ebene.
A total of 150 students were trained in the Introduction to Electronics Workshop and a second group of 150 students were trained in the Robot Building and Programming workshop. Hence in total 300 students were introduced to the basic concepts of electronics, robot building and programming.
The students were introduced to the following concepts:
Introduction to Electronics and Circuit Building workshop:
• Introduction to microcontrollers/ RAM/ ROM/ Crystal Oscillators/ Translator ICs/ FTDI/ Reset Functionality/ Analog Sensors/ Development board/ Input-output ports. Introduction to programming/ C-Program/ Embedded-C/ Syntax/ Headers/ Variables/ Functions/ Statements Types and Uses/ Instructions/ Conditions/ Loops/ Arduino Software/ Installing Software/ Identifying COM Port/ Setup and loop functions/ Assigning a port as Input or Output/ Writing digital outputs to a port/ Writing analog outputs/ Reading digital inputs/ Reading analog inputs/ Performing conditional actions based on inputs/ Performing continuous actions based on inputs/Concept of delay and its effects/ PWM concept and working/ Working with speed control of motors and brightness of LEDs/ Creating functions/ Calling functions/ Serial Communication/ Establishing communication/ ASCII Codes/ Programming robots on various algorithms.
Robot Building and Programming workshop:
• Designing of Autonomous robots/ Parameters to be considered/ Placement of components and analysis of design./Tabular Algorithms/ Analysing the possible conditions/ Simulating the output/ Concept of Obstacle Avoider Robot/ Concept of Pit Avoider Robot/ Concept of Light follower Robot/ Concept of Wall follower Robot/Concept of Line follower Robot/ Concept of Computer Controlled Robot.
4. MRC-ROBOT FESTIVAL 2017
During the MRC-Robot Festival the students having followed the course on introduction to electronics expressed their creativity and skills by designing and building smart home concepts using the devices on which they were trained. The students having followed the course on Robotics programmed their robots to compete with each other on two tracks namely avoiding obstacles and line follower tracks.
Hon Minister of Technology and Hon Minister of Education were the chief guests for the occasion and rewarded the best smart home design concept and the best robots.
The training courses were covered by the National Television and in the newspapers. Some links are as follows:
The Council wishes to place on record its appreciation for the contribution of the following sponsors:
• Mauritius Telecom for providing free internet connection to both training locations
• Ceridian, for having provided technical support throughout the event and for providing trophies for the winners
• Leal Informatics for having provided two ipod shuffle for the winners
• SBM, for providing 4 laptops for training sessions
• Logidis Ltd, for providing a voucher for the purchase of juice for the students
• Dex TV, for having filmed the whole event free of charge