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European network for 3D printing of biomimetic mechatronic systems

I am very glad to announce that our research project titled "European network for 3D printing of biomimetic mechatronic systems" (EMERALD) has received funding under the EEA Grants and Norway Grants.

This is a cooperation project that includes the following partners:

  • Technical University of Cluj-Napoca (Universitatea Tehnică din Cluj-Napoca), Romania
  • Politehnica University of Bucharest, Romania
  • University of Agder (UiA), Norway
  • Bizzcom s.r.o., Slovakia
  • Poznań University of Technology, Poland

The official link of the results communicated by the Romanian Agency today can be found here: https://www.eea4edu.ro/rez-coop/.

The official date for starting of the EMERALD project is 15 February 2022.

Approved budget 198,810 (EUR).

Congratulations to all members of the EMERALD project team for 1st place in EEA competition!

The project is complementary and builds up upon ongoing/previous related research works at the University of Agder (UiA). In a previous work [1, 2], a strategy that consists of adopting low-cost commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components for engineering learning purposes was presented at UiA. This combined both industry standard automation controllers, such as Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) technology, as well as novel microcontrollers designed for use in embedded systems education. Specifically, the micro:bit microcontroller based on the nRF51822 system-on-chip (SoC) and designed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was adopted. This work proposed a novel organisation of the embedded systems module for the engineering cybernetics education curriculum. With this approach, students were engaged in both a series of theoretical lectures as well as practical and highly-involving laboratory group projects. The course organisation and main topics as well as result analysis of student surveys were discussed. The survey results indicated that the course organisation and topics are effective for the students. A similar approach was also adopted and presented in a recent project. In particular, a strategy that consists of recycling electronic and robot disposals was adopted. Students were engaged in a real reverse engineering process and then challenged to find new possible applications and uses. The proposed approach enables students to gain practical knowledge of the integration of different engineering fields. However, these previous works do not consider the possibility of adopting virtual reality or augmented reality in the learning process. The potential benefit of considering this possibility was preliminary explored in a new recent work [3, 4, 5]. This work investigates the use of the virtual world to create experiential based learning experiences in a 3D immersive world for teaching computer hardware and electronic systems. In particular, the paper presents a number of approaches to capturing, displaying and visualising real world data in such 3D virtual environments. This approach shows the potential of adopting immersive learning environments. However, no VR/AR wearable devices were adopted in this preliminary work. To address some of these challenges, UiA is currently involved in an ongoing Erasmus+ project, titled AugmentedWearEdu, to identify potential VR application scenarios and current VR practices in higher education. Moreover, UiA is also exploring the development of low-cost wearable haptics. To give researchers and students a haptic feedback system that is economical, customisable, and fast to fabricate, our group developed a low-cost immersive haptic, audio, and visual experience built by using off-the-shelf (COTS) components. It is composed of a vibrotactile glove, a Leap Motion sensor, and an head-mounted display, integrated together to provide compelling immersive sensations. This technology will be adopted as a starting point for the project.

 

References

[1] Filippo Sanfilippo and Kolbjørn Austreng. Sustainable Approach to Teaching Embedded Systems with Hands-On Project-Based Visible Learning. International Journal of Engineering Education 37(3):814–829, 2021.

[2] Filippo Sanfilippo and Kolbjørn Austreng. Enhancing Teaching Methods on Embedded Systems with Project-Based Learning. In Proceeding of the IEEE International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Education (TALE), Wollongong, Australia. 2018, 335–342.

[3] Filippo Sanfilippo and Claudio Pacchierotti. A Low-Cost Multi-Modal Auditory-Visual-Tactile Framework for Remote Touch. In Proceeding of the 3rd IEEE International Conference on Information and Computer Technologies (ICICT), Silicon Valley, San Jose, United States. 2020, 213–218.

[4] Filippo Sanfilippo, Tomas Blažauskas, Gionata Salvietti, Isabel Ramos, Silviu Vert, Jaziar Radianti, and Tim A. Majchrzak. Integrating VR/AR with Haptics into STEM Education. In Proceeding of the 4th International Conference on Intelligent Technologies and Applications (INTAP 2021), Grimstad, Norway. 2021.

[5] Filippo Sanfilippo, Tomas Blažauskas, Martynas Girdžiūna, Airidas Janonis, Eligijus Kiudys and Gionata Salvietti. A Multi-Modal Auditory-Visual-Tactile e-Learning Framework. In Proceeding of the 4th International Conference on Intelligent Technologies and Applications (INTAP 2021), Grimstad, Norway. 2021. (Best Conference Paper).

Promotion to the rank of Full Professor in Mechatronics

I am honoured to announce that I have been promoted to the rank of Full Professor in Mechatronics at UiA - University of Agder.

I would like to thank all my colleagues and students that contributed to this achievement. I am also very grateful to my family and friends!

This journey started at Università degli Studi di Catania and Ulster University (BSc), next Università degli Studi di Siena and University of Hamburg (MSc), then NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology (PhD).

I am looking forward to the years ahead with more collaborative robotics research and education.

AugmentedWearEdu presented at the Digital Skills for Education & Culture Workshop

Today, we had the opportunity to present the latest results of AugmentedWearEdu at the Digital Skills for Education & Culture Workshop. Thank you to all the team!

The main objective of AugmentedWearEdu is to introduce a novel framework for e-Learning consisting of including haptic experiences to enable digital access to laboratories in higher education. This will be achieved by combining both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tools with a novel generation of wearable haptic devices. This will make it possible to engage students in a hapto-audio-visual hands-on laboratory environment. In this project, we will evaluate which of the available haptic technologies are suitable for e-Lerning and may foster the students’ ability to create complex simulations using existing or in-world modelling techniques and scripting tools, while offering the functionality to link to the real world and capture data which can be visualised in real-time. Haptics, VR and AR tools will be adopted either from our ongoing research activity or from various low-cost commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) tools. In this way, an innovative educational and research loop will also be established. This approach will contribute towards the achievement of fully-immersive, open and distance laboratory learning.

Filippo Sanfilippo