Hampton University, in collaboration with Carnegie-Mellon University, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, the University of the District of Columbia, Norfolk State University, Winston-Salem State University, Morgan State University, Jackson State University, Elizabeth City State University, Duke University, the University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, and the University of Michigan, proposes the ARTSI Alliance (Advancing Robotics Technology for Societal Impact). ARTSI is a consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and major research universities (R1s) working together to increase African American participation in computer science, with a focus on robotics. This extension proposal will expand ARTSI to seventeen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and roughly 10 major research universities (R1s). Hampton University is the new lead institution; Carnegie Mellon University remains the lead R1 school. The extension introduces three new initiatives that (1) improve the quality and uniformity of robotics instruction by developing robotics curriculum modules specific to the needs of HBCUs, (2) pilot a program to attract STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students to HBCUs by offering robot programming activities in local high schools, and (3) pilot skill-building program for rising sophomores to better prepare them to become involved in robotics research. The extension also includes new collaborations with the Caribbean Center for Computing Excellence (a BPC Alliance in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Project Report

Morgan State University (MSU) has been a proud member of the ARTSI Alliance since its inception (as ARTSI). MSU has had a long-standing robotics education curriculum since 1990, but became more actively engaged in robotics outreach with the surrounding K-12 community in 2007 at the start of the ARTSI Alliance. Dr. Richard Pitts, Jr. assumed the PI role in 2009 and continued the robotics outreach thrust at MSU while moving the Industrial Engineering (IE) department further along with the addition of robotics research and stronger robotics education components. With the creation of the Industrial Robotics and Automated Manufacturing (IRAM) Laboratory and formation of the Robotics Research Group (RRG) in 2009, MSU has consistently been able to attract students into this exciting field of robotics in the IE department. The RRG students have been able to attend and successfully compete in the Annual ARTSI Robotics Student Conferences and the Spelman College Computer Science Olympiads (SCCSO) held at Hampton University (2010), Florida A&M University (2011), Norfolk State University (2012), and Morgan State University (2013). Dr. Pitts has taken the undergraduate robotics students to numerous K-12 outreach activities (at schools such as W.E.B. DuBois, Western, and Patterson High Schools, as well as Northeast Middle School) throughout Baltimore City. In addition, Dr. Pitts also developed and updated several robotics and manufacturing systems courses at MSU. Today, the IE program is making great strides in robotics research and education. In addition to this excitement, MSU served as the host university for the 5th Annual ARTSI Student Research Conference and XI SCCSO during March 21 - 23, 2013. The conference gave the ARTSI students an opportunity to (1) showcase their research accomplishments, (2) meet peers with similar interests, and (3) get to know faculty at other institutions who may be able to provide summer internships and/or graduate training opportunities. All of these activities were accomplished through a robotics competition, a poster session, a CREU/DREU research session, and a Computer Science Olympiad competition. Overall, the 4 major goals of ARTSI were accomplished: (1) Increase the number of underrepresented (primarily African American) students who pursue advanced training in computer science or robotics, (2) Increase the institutional capacity of HBCUs to offer educational experiences in robotics, (3) Build an active community of HBCU faculty and students who collaborate with each other and with R1 faculty on robotics teaching and research, and (4) Conduct outreach activities for the broader public to increase awareness of and interest in African American achievement in robotics, and recruit new students to the pipeline. The NSF funding was a great investment in for the students and faculty involved in this project as it enabled ARTSI to be a successful endeavor.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
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Janice Cuny
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Morgan State University
United States
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