RoboCup – developing skills in safe robotics

Four VET schools working together in giving our students the best possible competences in Robotics. Keuda in Finland, Egibide in Spain, Kuben in Norway and Roskilde Tekniske Skole in Denmark have been working together since 2018 on the RoboCup project. Roskilde Tekniske Skole is lead partner, and the project runs until december 2023.

The partners met in 2018 for the first time. Common ground was a desire to give our students the best options for the future. Learning about robots isn´t integrated in the curricula in VET for all of the partner countries. Two partners have a specialization in Robotics and Automation, one a Robot Centre but not education specialised in robots. The last partner is working on a specialization in Robotics. The project includes four MicroChallenges where 16 students – 4 from each partner – works together on solving a challenge. First MicroChallenge – “Get a Grip” took place in Finland in the spring and the second in Denmark – “Test for Success” – in the autumn 2022 – both with great success. Before the actual MicroChallenge four groups are created – each group containing students from all partner countries. The first meeting is done online and gives the students the opportunity to get to know each other a bit before the real works start. During the first MicroChallenge the groups designed and 3D printed a gripper for a UR robot. All their innovative solutions to the challenge was presented to a panel of experts from the robot industry. One gripper was chosen to be the gripper that would play the main part in MicroChallenge 2. Again 16 students – 4 groups – and 4 solutions as to how design the coding for making that particular gripper work on a UR robot. The aim was that the robot would stack elements in a 3 X 3 X 3 pattern. Three elements high and nine stacks in total, with the safety issues taken into consideration. Again the solutions was presented to a panel of experts – a panel of suitably impressed experts. The coding that worked the best will now follow the gripper onwards in the project. For the first two MicroChallenges the project have had a film crew following every step of the way. The students and teachers from SunMedia have made RoboCup their project. They follow the students during the icebreaker activities and when they are working on the challenges. They interview the students and provide the project with fantastic material for the dissemination. Hours and hours of professional edited videos are at the projects disposal and will in time be available at the projects website. For the two next MicroChallenges – “Play safe” in Norway – the gripper and the coding for it will be put to use while safety equipment will be added to the equation and finally in “Better Together” in Spain everything will have to work in a line of collaborative robots. The gripper, the coding and the safety.

Both MicroChallenges will take place in the spring of 2023. An important part in the MicroChallenges is the Teamwork and the social aspect. Every MicroChallenge follows a pattern. Monday morning – start with icebreaker activities followed by the kick-off of the challenge. The first four days alternate between learning about working with robots in a safe way and having fun! Our students have been bathing in a frozen lake, building towers of spaghetti and marshmallows and visiting local museums. They have had movie nights with pizza, and new friendships have been made across borders. My suggestion The four partners met for the first time in 2018; Egibide (ES), Roskilde Technical College (DK), Keuda (FIN), and Kuben Upper Secondary School (NO). Our common ground was a shared desire to give our students the best options for their future, and that we are all front runners in our countries in the field of robotics for VET learners. Two of the partners have a specialization in Robotics and Automation, one a Robot Centre used by many of the schools VET programs, and the fourth partner is working on a specialization in Robotics. The project is based around four MicroChallenges (MC). 16 students – 4 from each partner – form transnational teams which work together on solving a challenge. The first MicroChallenge “Get a Grip” took place in Finland in March 2022, the second; “Test for Success” in Denmark in September 2022. Both MicroChallenges were great successes with hard working and happy students and teachers. Before each MicroChallenge four student transnational teams are created – each group containing students from all partner countries. The first meeting is done online and gives the students the opportunity to get to know each other before the real works start. For the first MicroChallenge the teams had to design and 3D-print a gripper for a UR robot. The teams then presented their innovative solutions to a panel of experts from the robot industry. One of the four grippers was selected as to play the main part in MicroChallenge 2. In September 16 students divided into 4 teams met and produced 4 solutions to the challenge; how to design the coding in order to make the chosen gripper work on a UR robot. The aim was for the robot with the gripper to stack elements in a 3 x 3 x 3 pattern. Three elements high and nine stacks in total, with safety issues taken into consideration. Their solutions were presented to a panel of experts – who were all suitably impressed. The coding that worked the best will now follow the gripper from MC1 onwards in the project. For the first two MicroChallenges (MC1 and MC2) the students and teachers have had a film crew following their every move. The media production students and teachers from SunMedia at Keuda (FIN) have made filming RoboCup their very own project. They film the students during social activities and when they are working on the challenges. They interview the students and provide the project with fantastic material for the dissemination. Hours and hours of professional edited videos are at the projects disposal and will in time be available at the project’s website. For the next MicroChallenge – “Play safe” in Norway (February 2023), the gripper and the coding from MC1 and MC2 will be used, while the student teams must work out the best safety equipment into the equation. Finally, in MC4: “Better Together” in Spain April 2023, everything will have to work in a line of collaborative robots. The gripper, the coding, and the safety. An important part of the project is that the participants learn teamwork and develop their social and language skills, and understanding of other European cultures. Every MicroChallenge follows the same pattern. Monday morning, we start with icebreaker activities followed by the kick-off of the challenge. On Friday the challenge is concluded by the student teams presenting their solutions to the panel of external experts.

During the project week the students alternate between learning about working with robots in a safe way and having a lot of fun! So far our students have been bathing in a frozen lake, building towers of spaghetti and marshmallows, and visiting local museums. They have had movie nights with pizza, and new friendships have been made across borders. We are all very much looking forward to the remaining two MicroChallenges and the partners are already making plans on how to continue RoboCup after the project period has ended.

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