Engaging robots: innovative outreach for attracting cybernetics students
Mitchell, R. J., Warwick, K., Browne, W. N. L., Gasson, M. N. and Wyatt, J. (2010) Engaging robots: innovative outreach for attracting cybernetics students. IEEE Transactions on Education, 53 (1). pp. 105-113. ISSN 0018-9359
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1109/TE.2009.2024932
Cybernetics is a broad subject, encompassing many aspects of electrical, electronic, and computer engineering, which suffers from a lack of understanding on the part of potential applicants and teachers when recruiting students. However, once the engineering values, fascinating science, and pathways to rewarding, diverse careers are communicated, appropriate students can be very interested in enrolling. At the University of Reading, Reading, U.K., a key route for outreach to prospective students has been achieved through the use of robots in interactive talks at schools, competitions (often funded by Public Understanding of Science projects), a collectable fortnightly magazine, exhibitions in museums, open days at the University, and appearances in the media. This paper identifies the interactive engagement, anthropomorphic acceptability, and inspirational nature of robots as being key to their successful use in outreach activities. The statistical results presented show that the continued popularity of degrees at Reading in cybernetics, electronic engineering, and robotics over the last 20 years is in part due to the outreach activities to schools and the general public.