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UAlbany to Use Robots to Study Computer Science Education
$330K grant from National Science Foundation grant partners researchers from UAlbany, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Schenectady County Community College, Union College and Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 11, 2007) -- The University at Albany's Institute for Informatics, Logics and Security Studies (ILS) has received $326,752 to utilize social robotics as a mechanism to deliver a revitalized computer science education. The program will bring together researchers from UAlbany's ILS, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Schenectady County Community College, Union College and the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium. Students will utilize robots as a platform to learn key computer science concepts, programming, and the interplay between hardware and software. 

"Robotics has a widespread base of appeal to students, academics and the general public alike," said Nick Webb, principal investigator and senior research scientist at ILS. "Social robotics is a great method for this multi-school effort to deliver a unique educational experience for the Capital Region, and serve as a template for reinvigorating national Computer Science education."

A social robot is one that interacts and communicates with those around it, following the social rules attached to its role. A robotic waiter, for example, would have to comply with established rules of good service. Social robotics education includes elements of design, psychology, cognitive science, communication and philosophy in addition to traditional computer science and engineering principles. The team plans to build a community of stakeholders in social robotics in the Capital Region. The group will hold four open workshops at the Schenectady Museum, bringing together academics, students, representatives from industry and members of the public to outline a program in social robotics. The outcome will be a draft of a multi-disciplinary program in social robotics, with core scientific appeal to future scientists and engineers. The program will offer a road map for technology education which can be implemented both locally and nationally to non-traditional computer science and engineering majors.

One of the 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, the nation's largest comprehensive system of higher education, Schenectady County Community College in upstate New York enrolls nearly 5,000 students. SCCC offers 41 career degree, transfer degree and certificate programs. The College opened its doors for classes in 1969 and continues to provide affordable comprehensive higher education and adult educational opportunities in response to local educational needs.


The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in nine schools and colleges, and an honors college. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit theUniversity at Albany. Visit UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts.

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