Lehrstuhl für Computergestütztes Planen in der Architektur
Fakultät für Architektur / RWTH Aachen

I, Robot

(Using Higher Level Programming in Interdisciplinary teams as a means of Training for Concurrent Engineering)

Autoren: Russell, Peter (Russell )
Erschienen in: Connecting the Real and the Virtual - design e-ducation (20th eCAADe Conference Proceedings)
Seiten: 14-19
Ort: Warschau
Land: Polen
Jahr: 2002
ISBN: 0-9541183-0-8


The paper explains a didactical method for training students that has been run three times to date. The premise of the course is to combine students from different faculties into interdisciplinary teams. These teams then have a complex problem to resolve within an extremely short time span. In light of recent works from Joy and Kurzweil, the theme Robotics was chosen as an exercise that is timely, interesting and related, but not central to the studies of the various faculties. In groups of 3 to 5, students from faculties of architecture, computer science and mechanical engineering are entrusted to design, build and program a robot which must successfully execute a prescribed set of actions in a competitive atmosphere. The entire course lasts ten days and culminates with the competitive evaluation. The robots must navigate a labyrinth, communicate with on another and be able to cover longer distances with some speed. In order to simplify the resources available to the students, the Lego Mindstorms Robotic syshed backgrounds instaed of synthetic ones. The combination of digitally produced (scanned) sperical images together with the use of HDR open a wide range of new implementation in the field of architecture, especially in combining synthetic elements in existing buildings, e.g. new interior elements in an existing historical museum).ural presentations in the medium of computer animation. These new forms of expression of design thoughts and ideas go beyond mere model making, and move more towards scenemaking and storytelling. The latter represents new methods of expression within computational environments for architects and designers.its boundaries. The project was conducted using the pedagogical framework of the; a relatively well established Internet based communication platform. This means that the studio was organised in the „traditional“ structure consisting of an initial 3 day workshop, a face to face midterm review, and a collective final review, held 3,5 months later in the Museum of Communication in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. In teams of 3 (with each student from a different university and a tutor located at a fourth) the students worked over the Internet to produce collaborative design solutions. The groups ended up with designs that spanned a range of solutions between real and virtual architecture. Examples of the student’s work (which is all available online) as well as their working methods are described. It must be said that the energy invested in the studio by the organisers of the virtual campus (as well as the students who took part) was considerably higher than in normal design studios and the paper seeks to look critically at the effort in relation to the outcomes achieved. The range and depth of the student’s work was surprising to many in the project, especially considering the initial hurdles (both social and technological) that had to overcome. The self-referential nature of the theme, the method and the working environment encouraged the students to take a more philosg and programming a winning robot. These differences became apparent early in the sessions and each group had to find ways to communicate their ideas and to collectively develop them by building on the strengths of each team member.