STEM Education Tools

Carnegie Mellon U Releases Robotics Programming Language

The Robotics Academy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has released ROBOTC 2.0, a programming language for robots used in educational environments.

Developed by Robotics Institute engineer Tim Friez and original ROBOTC inventor Dick Swan, the language is applicable to such widely used educational robotics systems as Lego Mindstorms RCX and NXT and Innovation First VEX and Cortex systems. The package comes complete with compiler, text editor, project editor, and runtime environment. Upgrades from the original release include an interactive, real-time debugger; support for a variety of sensors; support for WAV and MIDI sound file playback; and a new graphical user interface.

"Computer programming is not taught at the middle school level, yet hundreds of thousands of children gain their first programming experience with robots," said Robin Shoop, director of the Robotics Academy. "We introduced ROBOTC four years ago because students working with robots should spend their time learning scientific, mathematical and engineering principles, not learning a different programming language for each robot platform. Also, the programming environment students use should be compatible with a language such as C that they likely will use for years to come and with an interface that will help them transition to those used by professionals."

The ROBOTC 2.0 package--actually now at version 2.0.2 as of this writing--also includes an accompanying suite of tools and resources designed to be easily accessible and intuitive while offering the power and functionality necessary for advanced applications.

Shoop noted that early introduction to advanced computer and robotics technology is key to fostering interest in the fields among students in the United States, where enrollment in such programs faced six straight years of decline before beginning to rebound in the last year. "If we want America to lead the world in innovation, we need more students studying computer science, not fewer," Shoop said.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.

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