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Organization Of The Robo Toy Contest

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.770.1 - 6.770.9

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Paper Authors

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Andre Clavet

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Francois Michaud

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2620

Organization of the RoboToy Contest Francois Michaud, André Clavet Université de Sherbrooke (Québec Canada)


Since 1999, a group of professors and students at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) of the Université de Sherbrooke has been organizing a robot design contest. The challenge is to design a mobile robotic toy to help autistic children develop social and communication skills. The idea is to see how robots could help autistic children open up to their surroundings, improve their imagination and experience less repetitive behavior patterns. The pedagogical objective is to get students involved in a project that has technological considerations and social impacts. Such an opened and multidisciplinary design project requires careful preparation and the implication of students, faculty and experts. This presentation aim at describing the organization of the RoboToy Contest, to get other universities interested in such rich and fruitful initiative for all.

I. Introduction

If we want engineering students to learn how to be good engineers, we must put them as close as possible to real challenges similar to the ones they will have to face during their career. At the Université de Sherbrooke, in addition to the co-op training program, we are dedicated to make students work on projects as part of the curriculum2 . Lots of curriculum reforms are now trying to include more projects as part of their pedagogical activities. It is no secret that this requires more work and resources than giving lessons by following a text book, but the benefits are enormous: it creates a dynamic learning environment where students and teachers move beyond what is requested or taught in regular courses. These projects require students to work in teams and develop the technical skills required to be competent in their discipline. We also want them to address the communication and economical aspects in their designs, and having them present their work to the public is a good way of doing that.

It is with these objectives in mind that our Department of ECE started in 1998 a pedagogical project in which a mobile robotic platform named ROBUS8 is used to introduce a large group of first-year undergraduate students to electrical engineering and computer engineering. Grouped in teams of four, students have to assemble, test and program the robot. They use it to learn simultaneously electronics, sensors, actuators and real-time programming in C. To make them apply the engineering knowledge and skills, we invite them to participate in a design project, more specifically the design of toy robots to help autistic children increase their ability to focus their attention and to be more opened to their surroundings. Such project allows students to work on creative and innovative solutions that have a social impact, close to what engineers are asked to do in real-life situations. The event organized is called the RoboToy Contest7,10.

This paper is a follow up on two previous presentations at the ASEE on this initiative, to address questions that were asked about the organization of the event and the evaluation of the designs. To do so, Section II gives a brief summary of the contest, with some examples of designs presented in its second edition. Section III presents the different issues that must be addressed in organizing such an event like the equipment required, sponsorships, how to coordinate the participation of students with class activities, and the importance of making it real by involving research issues and experts. Compared to other robotic competitions, one particularity of the

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Clavet, A., & Michaud, F. (2001, June), Organization Of The Robo Toy Contest Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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