The CEFIM trains mostly workers willing to change career paths. There, they learn a job according to their plans, from web developer to desk technician, but also e-commerce manager and more.
One of such training programs is actually aimed at people who know they want to work in the « digital world » but aren’t sure in which field specifically. As such, they discover each type of jobs in short courses in order to then choose a qualifying training program with a professional degree in sight. One such course was aimed at learning the basics of robotics and programming via the conception of a robot using the Otto DIY platform during a period of 5 days.
The educational sequence was led by Céline Geneste, one of the permanent professional trainers working for the CEFIM. It started with the conception of 3D Models by each student, which could then be printed in a FabLab. Using the default schematics of Otto DIY as a basis for their little machines, the 9 students added their own personal touches by modelling pieces that once printed could be added to the simple model.
The 3D printers of the FabLab that the CEFIM partnered with then spent 48 hours to create all the parts of the 9 robots. During that time, the learners started working on the electrical part of the project, which is probably the most tedious task. Using the Arduino card at their disposal, they had to plug the servo motors, the buzzer and the ultrasonic sensor in the correct spots using the electrical diagram provided, and let’s just say the plugs and sockets are quite tiny and pretty close together.
After a few hairs were pulled from some heads due to extreme stress, the students were finally able to assemble the whole thing, but not before painting their printed parts to make their robots as colorful as they wanted them to be. The assembly of Otto DIY is quite simple, using some screws and only a few welds here and there to make the small automatons as sturdy as possible.
The programming of the robot was introduced throughout the process. First, before the assembly was completed, the Arduino cards and language were used to program some simple LEDs to light up at precise moments. Then, once the fabrication of the robot was complete, they used Arduino to apply this to their robot. Using the default program of Otto DIY, some students tried to create their own routines, while others found on the web some behaviors that had already been created by others in order to make the robot dance, sing, or do both. The group ended up with a couple "Ottoyoncé" dancing to the rhythm of Singles Ladies.
The project was an educational success, for both the trainer and the students. They were engaged throughout the sequence and the fact that what they learned could be applied straight away to a robot they conceived from start to finish (albeit with some models to base them on) helped them process and retain the objectives of the sequence much better. They headed back home that week with their robots in tow that they could keep on customizing if they wanted to.