Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

April, 2007

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Robotics News


    Well I am in Atlanta Georgia this week for the FIRST Robotics Championship. If you're here also look me up. If I'm not in the Supplier Exhibit area very likely I'm hanging out with people from Team 811 which I helped start a few years ago.

    Looking though things I realized that I never blogged about the lasted Microsoft Robotics Studio announcements. They have announced version 1.5 of the Robotics Studio and things are looking pretty impressive. The Visual Programming Environment has been improved. The simulation environment has been improved. And as you might expect even more hardware is being supported. The list of hardware partners has grown to impressive numbers. Personally I'm excited about the iRobot Create support. It's supported both for real live hardware and in the simulator.

    Among other simulations now available is a Sumo Robot simulation that uses simulated iRobot Create robots.This year at the Microsoft Mobile & Embedded DevCon (MEDC) 2007, starting in Las Vegas Apr30-May3 and continuing to select MEDCs around the world, Microsoft Robotics Studio will power the sumo robot competition. Information about the sumo robot competition at MEDC and how you can get involved even if you are not going to MEDC can be found here. There is a soccer bot simulation available as well in case you're not into sumo.

    Next week I will be in Redmond WA (Microsoft Corporate HQ) and I have a meeting scheduled with the Microsoft Robotics Group. I'm hoping to learn more about what's currently supported and perhaps a little about their upcoming plans.



  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Summer Faculty Workshops in .NET


    Joe Hummel is running his summer faculty workshop for university and high school faculty again this summer.

    The workshops will be held on campus at the University of Evansville They both include extensive hands-on experience. There is an introductory track first followed immediately by a more advanced track. People may attend one or both.

    The introductory track, focusing on the .NET platform, begins at 5pm on Sunday July 29th, and concludes by 9pm on Tuesday July 31st. The advanced track will begin at noon on Wednesday August 1st, and conclude by 5pm August 3rd. For $99.00 per track, which includes room, board, instruction and materials, that's a pretty good deal.  Attendees are responsible for their own travel to/from Evansville. 

    The web site for the workshops is at (Don't let the naked IP address scare you. )

    I've seen Joe in action and I've used his materials to teach several times myself and I strongly recommend his workshops.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Impressing College Admissions Departments


    The New York Times had a fascinating story on college admissions last week. The top universities are rejecting students in record numbers. Perfect scores on the SAT, a 4.0 and graduating tops in your class is not always enough these days. Now one can debate the value of these tops schools all one wants but the fact remains that if a student wants to get into the school of their choice they have to set themselves apart.

    This statement by a spokesperson from Caltech ( a pretty good school indeed) rings a solid note with me:

    “The successful students have to have shown some passion for science and technology in high school or their personal life,” Ms. Perry said. “That means creating a computer system for your high school, or taking a tractor apart and putting it back together.”

    A lot of students say they are interested in a field like computer science, engineering or technology but what are they doing that says it to someone looking at a college application?

    A student says they want to study computer science but didn't take any computer science in high school? Say what!

    OK there was not computer science course so what did they do on their own? Did they create a website? Perhaps a DotNetNuke portal. Did they got to the Beginner Developer Learning Center and teach themselves?  Or did the create a game for the Xbox 360 using XNA Game Studio Express? How about creating a robot using Microsoft Robotics Studio? Did they get some projects from Coding 4 Fun and build on them?

    If they did take a class what did they do outside of class with what they learned? Basically how do you document that you have the interests that you say you have. Actions speak louder than words - even the words on a transcript.

    A lot of this applies to college students looking for their first jobs as well. How did you spend your summer? Stocking shelves at the local hardware store or taking an internship or an apprentice level job in an IT office or company? Did you enter competitions like CSIDC or the Imagine Cup to test yourself against other students? What did you do besides take courses, get good grades and drink beer during your four years in college?


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