RJ Podeschi, assistant professor of information systems at Millikin University in Decautur, IL uses Pro-Bots to teach coding and other skills in a partnership between Millikin and Decatur Public Schools. The course satisfies a degree requirement for the Information Systems major at Millikin while benefiting students who decide to enter the technology field.
“The Pro-Bot robotic cars allow you to do all the typical programming functions, including things like conditional logic and loops,” Podeschi says. “The cars have sensors built into them, so when students run into a barrier they have to turn the car around and come back another direction.”
The students are broken up into teams and given an objective to achieve with the robot, such as navigating a maze or an obstacle course, moving in a circle, or stopping at a wall. “It's a lot of testing. You have to test everything before you can actually understand what exactly needs to happen,” said Decatur high school student Sierra Reed. “Even though it's not very mathematical, you still have to know how far you have to go for certain things, and to know what numbers and angles to use.”
In reference to the mix of high school and Millikin students in the course, Podeschi says, “The high school students are highly motivated and they certainly have some interest in technology and programming in the future. Being able to have Millikin students work with high school students creates a great mentorship opportunity.”
The Information Systems program at Millikin provides the opportunity for students to obtain skills to build information systems that improve the business operations and decision-making of 21st century organizations. For more information about the program, visit https://millikin.edu/IS.