How Robotics is Impacting Education
August 06, 2015      

With continued advances in robotics, we’re now beginning to see how the field will impact education in new, tactile ways. For instance, with a focus on science and tech, STEM education is critical to the Obama administration’s current “Educate to Innovate” program, across all levels of schooling.

Alongside this government push, parents are also looking forward to the real benefits of STEM (PDF). In fact, the two fields parents want most for their children to pursue are science and engineering – these skills remain high priority.

Over the next five years, STEM education will have an even bigger impact on the knowledge structure for innovation, spurring the next generation of innovators. As STEM courses become core curriculum, robots and robotics will serve as the central force.

The Benefits of Coding and Programming

With coding and programming driving robotics, these skills will become more essential than ever before. After all, Oxford University estimates (PDF) that as many as 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be wholly automated in the next 20 years. Given this, it’s vital to implement robotics heavily into today’s education programs, so that students have a firm grasp of the mechanisms behind it. This will ensure that today’s students keep pace with the rate of innovation, even in the workplace.

Additionally, on a lighter yet just as important a note: coding, programming and robotics provides for possibilities across play. Robots are increasingly being used as entertaining, interactive toys for children, creating opportunities for learning. As a result, children gain STEM skillsets by practicing, repeating and growing their coding abilities. At DFRobot, our new Vortex is an open-source device that does just this.

What About the Maker Movement?

Also with an eye towards education, for children, the maker movement is the ultimate inspiration for creating their own projects. From our perspective, it’s beneficial for parents to introduce their children to maker possibilities from an early age – again, in order to reinforce and hone essential STEM skills.

Furthermore, on a community-based level, children and families can learn from each other’s projects while also sharing creative ideas spurred by coding possibilities (for example by programming robots on the same platform to play a multi-player game). Essentially then, the open-source side of programming and coding establishes the maker movement as a natural catalyst for robotics education.

Where the Future of Robotics is Heading

In the next decade, robotics will become the next computer industry. In fact, robotic uses will continue to become standardized, as robots will in part replace processes such as manufacturing, security and even household chores.

Therefore, education around robotics, led by STEM and even robotic play, will function similarly to computer tech in the late 1980s. Just as software engineering led us into the digital age, today, robotic education will be the lynchpin.

About the Author

Ricky Ye is the CEO of DFRobot, a robotics and open source hardware provider that is dedicated to creating innovative, user-friendly products that foster a strong community of learning. Ricky and his team are focused on home robotics, technologies and applications.

Prior to starting DFRobot, Ricky was a key researcher in developing the next generation robotic assembly line for the aerospace industry, a project that saw him collaborate with Airbus and Rolls Royce. Ricky built a robot community “Robotic Fan” that had over 30,000 members and also created an Open Hardware project “HCR” in 2008, which was the first successful open source mobile robot platform project in China.

Ricky is a graduate of the The University of Nottingham where he received his Ph.D in robotics.