St. Petersburg Technical University “LETI” successfully held a professional winter school on Industrial Software Engineering for Robotics and the Internet of Things from January 20 to February 2. Students from Algeria, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Iran, Liberia, Lebanon, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, Syria, and Thailand gained basic skills in popular fields of software engineering.
The program of the schools used the STEM method, which involves the integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into the learning process. In the first part of the school’s curriculum, students studied basic subjects – mathematics, electrical engineering and programming -, which complemented each other and helped students see the connection between seemingly different subjects. Students consolidated their knowledge in electrical engineering and circuit design by assembling simple devices from a set of wires and electronic components provided.
The next lessons were devoted to the basics of programming and the Python language, which is in demand in the area. As part of the program, students were introduced to the Robot Operating System (ROS), which is the de facto standard for prototyping robotic systems. A new element of this year’s winter school was the basics of computer vision, which allowed participants to teach the robot to “see.”
The last part of the program took place on the Duckietown platform, a training ground for testing algorithms of autonomous vehicles, which is a reduced model of the urban transport environment, including road markings, vehicles, traffic lights, signs, and buildings.
The final stage of training was the final project: the students united in groups of 3-4 people and had to solve the problem – for example, to count the number of pedestrians, which were yellow rubber ducks, during the movement on the route. The trainees could address a problem, write a program to solve it, and then immediately launch it on a real robot.
According to the school coordinators, the main advantage of Duckietown is a steep learning curve: people who knew nothing about programming and robotics started working on projects in a few days. “Duckietown is the perfect fit for our course because it offers a hands-on learning experience for all of our main topic areas. An already well-established tool allows you to intensively acquire basic knowledge and skills in mobile robotics. After successfully passing our school, a person can already apply for a position in a software engineering company for robots” said Kirill Krinkin, Program Coordinator, Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering
The winter school on Industrial Software Engineering for Robotics and Internet of Things is a testing of the project-training model, an educational approach, in which students develop practical solutions for real problems from different areas of the economy and society. The key principles of this approach are problem-solving orientation and interdisciplinarity.
“Our goal is to provide participants with a full range of knowledge in 10 days that includes them in the context of modern industry. This is a very popular format. There are very few places where you can find a school that promotes you from zero level to understanding how the industry works.” said Kirill Krinkin, Program Coordinator, Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering
After graduation, participants shared their impressions:
“I have already had some experience in the area, but I wanted to improve it. My friend told me about winter schools, and I searched for the best one. I found a lot of information about this course, and people told that it is very good. I decided to go very far, but for something that I will really enjoy. I enjoyed this winter school. I hope I can bring more people from Brazil here because it is a life-changing experience” said Mendonca Alvaro Alexandre from Brazil, a participant in the winter school on Industrial Software Engineering for Robotics and Internet of Things