In my final year of University I was lucky enough to take part in the robotics module – as I understand it, people starting the same course as me at the time I was leaving got to do robotics as standard in their first year! Not so with us, it was kept to the last and had limited places and all.
The course was half practical – building and programming a robot – and half theory – how to process data from sensors and control various aspects of the robot. The robots themselves were based on a small micro controller board with many simple I/O ports, built in to a shell made of Lego. I was one of a team of three, and initially we were all unsure of the programming side of it, but confident in our Lego abilities! This changed around pretty abruptly when it came to actually building the thing – turns out Lego can be a pain!
The objective of the robot was to collect coloured cans in a small square arena, and deposit them in the identically-coloured corner of the arena. Obviously, without hitting walls or getting stuck was preferable too.
In the final year of my degree course we had to design and implement a project entirely of our own choosing – some made iOS apps, some made travel/mapping aids, all manner of things. I was personally quite stuck on what I wanted to do – it’s difficult to decide what you want the biggest project you’ve built thus far to be, especially given the choice of potentially doing something easier and getting it done sooner. I began looking through the personal pages of every lecturer who was available as a project overseer, and came across the suggestion of trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle. At first I skipped over it because when I thought about how I’d implement it, my brain returned a big fat null.
Ultimately, that’s the very reason I chose it. “No point in half measures,” I thought, so I jumped in to the deep end of a project with no clue how I was going to make it happen.