The objectives of the study were summarized by Robots.net. (via Timbuktu Chronicles) "The problem faced by the CMU researchers was how to teach creative use of technology to students in developing regions who tended to think of technology in very narrow terms (for example thinking of computer software only in terms of databases or business applications)."
Ayorkor Mills-Tettey is PhD student at the prestigious CMU Robotics Institute. She grew up in
Sanaga - hello Ayorkor, can you please introduce your research briefly?
Ayorkor: I work on two different areas of research.
- The first is path planning, which is a traditional area of robotics. In collaboration with my advisors Dr. Tony Stentz and Dr. Bernardine Dias at
, I work on designing efficient algorithms to find paths for autonomous robots in partially known environments. Currently, our focus is the domain of robotics exploration. For example, consider the NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity that are currently exploring Mars. These rovers need to navigate from one point to another on the planet, making their way around various obstacles in their environment, but continuously monitoring various constraints such as whether they can maintain communication contact with earth, and whether they have sufficient charge in their batteries. We are interested in designing algorithms for such domains where there are many constraints, but where optimality and efficiency are important. Carnegie Mellon University
- The second area I am interested in concerns education and technology and their relationship to development. Sustainable development is not just about having food, shelter and healthcare, but it's about every person and community on this earth being able to develop their potential, express their creativity and contribute to an ever-advancing civilization. Suitable and relevant education is the key to this kind of development, and technology is a powerful tool that can be exploited in this process.
What is TechBridgeWorld at
TechBridgeWorld is an organization based out of
Explain to us the undergraduate introductory Robotics course that you taught at
This past summer, I worked with Dr. Bernardine Dias, Dr. Brett Browning (another professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon), and Dr. Nathan Amanquah (a computer science professor at
The aim of the course was to capture some of this excitement and motivation and use it to help students become even better problem-solvers and scientists. The skills learned in working on robotics projects are applicable to many other kinds of technical and creative projects. The course was also aimed at helping students recognize that there are so many things that can be done with computer science and so it is important for them to think broadly.
We worked with Ashesi in
What lessons did you learn from this experience?
There are too many to list :)
- Obviously, we learned more about teaching, about what works and what doesn't.
- We learned about the benefits of international partnerships between universities. Perhaps one of the most important things we learned is that this is possible.The course was a success, and the students did well and gained a lot of experience. There was a lot of interest in the course, and we hope that it will continue having an impact and contribute to the process of developing technical professionals who are capable and creative in their approach to problem-solving, because capable and creative professionals are really needed in
Next time Ayorkor talks to me about her vacation plans, I promise to pay attention because she demonstrated successfully that she truly belongs to this new generation of Africans that take simple but meaningful actions to promote the development of our continent. Kudos to Ayorkor, TechBridgeWorld and Ashesi University for this tremendous experience, we wish her a lot of success in her academics endeavours.
Source images: courtesy of Ayorkor Mills-Tettey