The Little OPW Intern Blogs

It makes me feel a little guilty that my Christmas present this year was given to me last November in the form of an online announcement. Another sprinkling of guilt comes from over-thinking this blog post, which at least, is being prepared a few hours into Christmas day while my family has gone to bed.

I’ve been accepted into Round 7 of the Free and Open Source Software, Outreach Program for Women Internships which runs through December to March. My application, specific to the Open Source Robotics Foundation, included a short and very generalized  proposal to develop robotics courseware using OSRF tools such as ROS, Gazebo and CloudSIM to create a rich simulated environment and learning management system. The system would enable a student (or beginning hobbyist) to experiment and learn about bits and pieces of the interdisciplinary world that is robotics. I learned about the program via Nootrix while on one of my attempts to get things going with my M.Sc. thesis and jumped at the opportunity to (1) be employed; (2) be employed using an overlap of the tools I’m learning for my thesis anyway; and (3) be employed and still make use of all tiny insights gathered from teaching freshmen.

I submitted my application form and proposal a few hours earlier than the deadline because I got the timezone conversion wrong and hoped for the best. And here I am. It seems the first step always has something to do with blindly telling yourself that everything will be just fine. I’ve been assigned Messrs Tully Foote and Hugo Boyer from OSRF, and behind them, years of hands-on experience with intelligent machines. I couldn’t have been any more star struck with the idea. We’ve been in hour long brainstorming sessions about the project since the 10th. 

Right now, we’ve planned out the modules with a Senior High School student audience, the basic track separated into three main units: Actuation, Perception and Navigation. I’m currently working on mockups and hopefully pseudo code before the next meeting after the Christmas week. On the side, I attempt to expand the outlines or put a little work done on my own thesis project (the hardware of which is sitting comfortably beside me since my adviser gave the go signal to have me spirit them away from campus). I sincerely hope we can get at least two good simulation/tutorials ready in the next few months. I know a bunch of students who I’d like to introduce to open source robotics :)

Like someone told me, small steps (and a blog update every two weeks).

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