New CS Robotics Lab

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By Joshua Ostrer

By the time fall term begins, the Wold building will have a brand new addition. After 10 months the Center 2 Space Committee and Dean of Faculty Therese McCarty have approved a new computer science lab to be constructed on the first floor of the Wold building. The new lab space is located under the first floor stairs of the Wold building in Wold 013.

The lab will hold all of the computer science department’s Human Computer Interaction equipment and robots, both of which are currently scattered across different research stations on campus. “We can’t really commit to new equipment yet until we know all of the costs,” said Chair of the Computer Science Department Professor Valerie Barr.

The department is making the move from its current location in the basement of the Science and Engineering building. “Our spot in the basement of Science and Engineering is too small and too compartmentalized for our needs,” said Barr. “We have a pioneer robot which we can’t run at all in our limited space, we’ve been running it in the hallway, so just having a larger amount of space will be important,” she continued.

The computer science department is attempting to open the lab for use as soon as possible. The department is hoping to have the construction start by the beginning of the summer. However, they first must finish looking at building proposals and choose specific materials to be used in construction. “[We want the lab] open certainly by the fall, hopefully sooner, we actually just found we would be getting the space,” said Barr.

The computer science department did not run into many problems in securing the space. “Some things unfold slowly, but we’re very thankful to have it. One thing about CS [computer scince] that makes us different is that we ask for no individual faculty spaces. We are a different model that just needs one research space,” said Barr.

The computer science department is already planning out usage of the new lab, having ordered three new robots that can be programmed with an iPhone. They also plan on replacing their Olin computers by summer 2013. The department has also received interest from the biology, Russian, economics, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering departments about using the lab space. As far as what students can expect from the lab space, “I think what we’ll see there is essentially more of the same, just on steroids,” said Barr. Anyone interested in using the lab space, especially for work on robotics, should contact the computer science department for more information.

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