Yesterday Microsoft announced that they are partnering with Georgia Tech and Bryn Mawr to create a new Institute for Personal Robots in Education. This program is going to deliver robotics technology and curriculum materials for the computer science curriculum. (Press Release here – Q & A with some of the people involved here) I think this is a pretty exciting event because I think that robotics has the possibility of getting a lot more people interested in computer science. Also I think that there is a lot that robotics technology can do to improve the way people live and work. Having some proven tools, there is a strong evaluation effort planned for this institute, can only help.
The plan here is to work on materials for college, including the early CS courses. I tend to think that a lot of first and even second year materials are usable by more advanced high school students though. So I see some potential for this program to benefit students. If nothing else the creation of a small, reliable and sturdy robot that can be sold in a college bookstore with a book sounds like something that has use beyond these selective universities. It’s a development I intend to watch closely.
Oh and the project is going to use the Microsoft Robotics Studio which is already available in beta.