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Robot dog, $30,000 to make WA students love ICT

WA is hoping local students will develop a new love for IT, with the announcement of AU$30,000 in funding for hands-on programs to boost school pupils' enthusiasm for computer science.
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Written by Suzanne Tindal on

WA is hoping local students will develop a new love for IT, with the announcement of AU$30,000 in funding for hands-on programs to boost school pupils' enthusiasm for computer science.

Dancing AIBO the robotic dog
Credit: School of Computer Science and Software Engineering, University of Western Australia

The funding, announced by Mark McGowan, WA Minister for Education and Training, is part of a wider project called the Awesome Animations and Animatronics Outreach Program.

"The demand for computer science subjects has fallen in recent years, however animation and animatronics are growing, exciting fields," McGowan said in a statement.

The money will go towards creating ten modules for students to do at the computer science facilities at The University of Western Australia as well as in their own classrooms. It will also pay for student and staff time spent developing the hands-on projects as well as some equipment, a spokesperson for the University's school of Computer Science and Software Engineering said.

One project which has been running in recent years at the University of Western Australia's open days has been a robotic dog, the spokesperson said, which can play soccer — a popular demo with young students.

"They get a different view on what ICT is really about," the spokesperson said. "When we get them here, rather than having someone talk to them about their options we have hands-on experience. The response has been phenomenal."

The university is looking at proposals for hands-on demonstrations from students and staff in its areas of strength, including robotics, computer networks, Web technology, artificial intelligence, computer vision, databases and security, graphics, games programming, information technology and software engineering. The students developing the projects will also benefit from the experience, the spokesperson said.

Once developed, the programs will hopefully be able to be used for many years, the spokesperson said.

The grants will not cover all of the materials required, the spokesperson said, with additional funding coming from the university itself and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

The project will benefit 50 schools each year for the next five years, according to the Minister.

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