After some discussions with a number of different educators, I’ve noticed a bit of a problem. ROS is used by many institutions of higher education to teach introductory and advanced robotics, however, each institution has a slightly different approach to teaching ROS in a classroom setting. The number of robots, dev environments, code bases, and reference materials is almost as large as the number of organizations teaching ROS. While I think having a multiplicity of approaches is good, it leads to a lot of duplication of effort. I see similar problems when it comes to ROS workshops, every workshop has a slightly different approach, and the instructors spend a lot of time just getting students to the point where they can start learning. As the ROS community grows it would be immensely helpful for us to have a common starting point for ROS education.
I would like to propose the formation of a ROS Education Working Group (EdWG). I want to be extremely intentional about the goals of this working group; there are lots of different ways to approach learning robotics, and right now we can’t make progress on every front. Instead, I want to narrowly focus the working group on improving ROS education for undergraduate and graduate students in a classroom setting. Everyone is welcome to participate in the working group, but I believe this will work best if the scope of the working group is narrowly focused on a specific end-user.
I’ve drafted a tentative summary of the EdWG’s goals and subprojects and included it below. The next step for the EdWG is to gather an initial set of members and find a good time to meet. I propose that we meet bi-weekly and tick-tock the meeting time to accommodate as many people as possible. Please fill out the brief survey below so we can select a time for the first working group meeting and gather a list of interested parties. I will draft an agenda and announce the first meeting once the poll below closes.
Please complete the form by 2023-08-08T16:00:00Z.
The ROS 2 Education Working Group (EdWG) is intended to bring together educators from the ROS community to share their educational materials, resources, and approaches related to ROS, robotics, and software engineering for robotics. A successful ROS EdWG will produce a wide variety of open-source educational materials for the ROS robotics community including texts, tutorials, projects, curriculum, simulation environment, and class notes. The EdWG’s goal will be to release this material online for freely available download and use under an open-source license.
This working group is intended to produce the resources necessary for the successful practical use of ROS by institutions of higher education with a particular focus on undergraduate education. Where and when possible the work products of the EdWG should reference, improve, and extend existing core ROS resources and serve to supplement the existing ROS documentation.
Robotics is a vast and growing field, and the community’s need for educational materials is almost limitless. A small working group, composed of voluntary members, simply cannot address every community need, “good idea”, or new educational robot. Instead, the EdWG will scope its efforts to a small number of subprojects that directly accelerate the use of ROS by institutions of higher education. Because the EdWG is intended to be a working group and not a “discussion group”, EdWG members will be asked to make regular contributions towards one of the subprojects. On a rolling-basis the members of the EdWG will define the current subprojects via group discussion and democratic decision making.
These are proposed initial EdWG subprojects:
- “Semester of Robotics with ROS” Outline
- Define the skills and background knowledge of the “average” undergraduate ROS student.
- Define what a complete undergraduate ROS course would look like in terms of the ROS API.
- Reference existing ROS 2 documentation on the selected topics.
- Select external resources for core concepts, preferably open source or open access.
- Determine best balance between software concepts and practical concepts.
- Define relevant packages for the course (e.g. MoveIt, Nav2, ros_2_control).
- The course should cover enough classroom topics for one undergraduate class with the option for the educator to provide one or two labs for practical experience.
- This outline would be used to guide subsequent efforts.
- Core Ed Platform Development
- Define how to structure and host ROS educational materials such that they can be used, improved, shared, and maintained by educators.
- Specific recommendations for file types, repository structure, structure for example and project code, etc.
- TurtleBot4 is the current working model
- Propose an approach for updating materials for each ROS 2 release.
- Define and Build “Student Sandbox”
- Students struggle getting started with ROS.
- To overcome this some groups package ROS on a remote machine with a web-based IDE, some groups release Docker containers, some build simply Python interfaces.
- This subproject would examine these approaches and pick a single approach for sandboxing ROS for undergraduate education that the EdWG can build upon.
- This subproject must define how a student sandbox would work for both a simulated and real robot.
- This sub project would define the requirements for the ROS student sandbox and build it.
- Provide hands-on examples for common open source robotics platforms.
- Students struggle getting started with ROS.
- Bi-monthly Meeting:
- Day: TBD
- Time: TBD
- Google E-mail Group: