3E Robot

News, announcements and behind-the-scenes looks at 3E Robotics

Disclaimer: The articles on this page are intended to announce, inform, provide food for thought and sometimes amuse the readers. Most of the articles are written by Tony Clayvon who makes no claims of expertise in anything, and is not considered to be very bright. So read these articles at your own risk.

Name Change - 3ERobot Coder

The Robot Animator software application is now called 3ERobot Coder. This name change is being implemented to avoid any possible confusion with another entity using Robot Animator for their software product, which is used in computer aided design applications.

Although a name change can be a bit of a pain, I believe the new name better reflects the true nature and intent of this software application.

My apologies for any inconvenience this name change may cause. As always, I appreciate your interest.

January 20, 2017
By Tony Clayvon

Robot Animator goes 3D

The original 2D version of the Robot Animator app proved that students as young as 6 years old could learn a text-based coding language, an alternative to the popular block style coding apps. Now, the Robot Animator has gone 3D!

The new 3D Version adds functionality to make this app a great introduction to software coding for students of all ages. The students can now control and view the robot in 3 dimensions. This creates a more fun and a more realistic experience for the students. The students can now use software code to customize their robot's appearance and to control the 3D view. The Premium Subscription holders can share their code and collaborate with their friends.

March 18, 2016
By Tony Clayvon

Demo Robot Upgrade

Our Demo Robot got a new set of clothes! Or I should say 'Body Armor'. The robots body armor is where we can use our artistic talents to design various shapes and color schemes for the robot and put the 'A' in STEAM.

To those of you who have already seen several versions of the Demo Robot, be prepared to see more. The appearance of the robot is very important in terms of how the robot is received by the people who see it. By changing Demo's appearance we hope to spark the imaginations of the students as they consider what their own robot might look like.

March 18, 2016
By Tony Clayvon

New Website

The 3E Robotics web site has gone thru several changes over the years. The most recent change can be characterized by the phrase, "Less is More."

The web site has been greatly simplified, making it easier to navigate and more importantly - easier to understand what 3E Robotics has to offer. The site is also more mobile friendly making browsing the site on a device with a small display screen more manageable.

March 18, 2016
By Tony Clayvon

Software Coding - The Blind leading the Blind

Software Coding is hot! You may have heard statistics of how there is a dire shortage of software professionals, and the shortage is projected to increase in the future. We need to get more young people in the field. Hence, the STEM Initiative...

There are a multitude of offerings for those organizations who would like to offer Coding as part of their STEM programs for students grades k-12. But who's teaching the coding classes? Obviously it needs to be someone who understands coding and is qualified to teach it. Houston, we may have a problem. Is this a "blind leading the blind" situation?

There are several solutions that can work. Some of the more fortunate organizations and communities have access to qualified instructors such as parent volunteers, partner company employees, hired engineering college students, etc. Other organizations and communities aren't as fortunate.

Online training and online degree programs for adults are also hot! So maybe we can use this for the younger students as well. For example, training videos created by the "subject matter experts" could be used as the basis for the classes. The in-class instructor now only needs to be qualified as a moderator. Someone who can organize and work with the students as they follow the video-based instruction.

This is the approach that 3E Robotics is proposing to its partners. Our partners have full access to training videos and personalized training for the class moderators. We strive to support our partners so that they can confidently and affordably teach coding.

March 18, 2016
By Tony Clayvon

Software Coding - 3ER Style

During my career as an electrical engineer and entrepreneur, software coding has been an integral part of my responsibilities. Some projects required coding in different languages. I have coded in several popular software coding languages including C, C#, C++, Javascript, HTML, PHP, CSS, XML, JSON and more. I have also created proprietary software coding languages for several projects. My list of coding languages represents a small fraction of the hundreds of software coding languages available.

Fundamentally, software coding languages are the means by which humans control computers and machines. There are popular public domain languages, as well as proprietary languages that have been developed to address specific uses and applications.

All software coding languages share common attributes. They have a vocabulary of allowable words and rules for using the words. They have ways to make decisions based upon given data or based upon the results of calculations performed on given data. But the one thing that software coding languages share that may prove to be most difficult is that humans have to learn to think like a computer, not the converse. We must learn to think of how to solve a problem, then code the instructions into the computer in a way that it understands and can execute. This special way of thinking is what is important, it's not the coding language that is used. Early exposures to software coding should emphasize this special way of thinking.

Simply put, Coding 3ER style is controlling a humanoid robot using a simple software coding language. Most students may not understand the technology that makes the robot work, but each one knows a lot about being human. The coding vocabulary and rules of use are easy to learn because its all about human body movements. This is a software coding language reduced to a simple and natural form that encourages that special way of thinking, and prepares the student for the popular software coding languages used in schools and industry.

We often see software coding apps that use block style programming where you work toward your solution by combining blocks (graphic elements) and adjusting the blocks properties. These graphical methods take away some of the complexity associated with typing the actual code statements. I suspect that these types of apps are popular because they make it easier for the instructor who may not have much coding experience himself. I acknowledge that graphical programming is very powerful and practical for real world applications.

I prefer to engage the students with a text-based coding language which more directly transfers to the popular software coding languages that students will eventually need to learn. I believe that students will develop a better "feel" for coding.

Coding 3ER style is designed to build confidence and engage the students with software coding that positively transfers to more popular languages going forward.

March 18, 2016
By Tony Clayvon

Software Coding In Perspective

Software Coding is a hot topic today. There are projections that suggest that a large percentage of jobs in the 21st Century will require some knowledge of coding. You should first understand that it's not only computer related careers we're talking about. This also includes careers that use or rely heavily on computers. But here's a Catch 22 situation, it maybe that software coding is a mystery for most of the people today who are charged with preparing our youth for these 21st Century jobs.

Fundamentally, software coding is the means by which humans control computers and machines. There are public domain languages, as well as proprietary languages that have been developed to address specific uses and applications.

Some of you may not be aware that you are or have done software coding. In this digital age, the lines between being a user of technology and a producer are blurring. There exists different levels of software coding. In some cases, the users are defining (coding) functionality, instead of the functionality being pre-coded by a software professional. If you've created spreadsheets, you have done software coding. Spreadsheets have their own unique codes required to achieve the results you desire. So effectively, any time you interact with a computer or a machine, you are coding. When you format you Word document, you are coding. When you setup your microwave oven to cook your food, you are coding.

So relax, you have a better perspective on coding, and you've already got this software coding thing under control.

March 18, 2016
By Tony Clayvon

The STEM Initiative - Reaching the URMs

So many acronyms... I just recently became aware of the acronym URM (under represented minorities), in reference to the percentages of certain ethnic groups in STEM related careers or pursuing college degrees leading to STEM related careers. The published articles suggest that certain ethnic groups have not been and are not on the path to STEM in adequate numbers, and that this is unacceptable because it is better for society to have a diverse workforce.

A moment of clarity follows: So, what has been done in the past has not worked for URMs. We need to do something different. Yes, that's it, we need something different...

One idea that I have is not to put so much emphasis on math. It could scare people away, particularly parents. Some might consider it child abuse to subject students to years of math studies. I'm suggesting that we can effectively use and produce technology without being a math wiz. It's not like we need to put a man on the moon doing our calculations with pencil, paper, and a slide rule. Today, we have these things called computers that can "do the math." Also, many technology solutions are developed by multi-disciplinary teams of people, not all need to be geeks - slang for uncommonly smart people, not intended to offend.

I also believe that public education is not ready for the STEM Initiative. The education bureaucracy and the lack of supportive parents in some communities that exists in general education, will stifle STEM initiatives as well. I believe that a more effective pathway for URMs to STEM is through extra-curricular activities.

Outside the traditional classroom, there should be more freedom to explore beyond the constraints of traditional educational goals and philosophies. We will also likely be dealing with a different family profile. The type of family who can see the value of exposing their students to extra-curricular activities, and are willing to spend time and money to do so. Yes, I am suggesting that we first harvest the "low hanging fruit". Let's call them EZ-URMs. We may be surprised at the results. Someone smarter than me will have to figure out a solution for the non-EZ-URMs.

I believe that the target EZ-URMs can be found thru churches, youth sports leagues, community centers, the large non-profit youth organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, and the 4H Clubs. Let's try that. I'll get back to you on the results.

March 18, 2016
By Tony Clayvon

Fundamental Problems with the STEM Initiative

STEM professionals (scientist, technologist, engineers, and mathematicians) are the best people to encourage students to pursue STEM related careers. We should not expect teachers and educators to do that effectively.

Teachers are not STEM professionals. The STEM Initiatives adds additional burdens to the already over-worked and under-paid teachers. I've seen it advised and encouraged to establish relationships with private industry and STEM professionals to assist in STEM initiatives. Easier said than done?

Naturally, educators will have the tendency to frame things in the way they understand, in ways that are important to them, particularly in improving test scores. For them, activities need to correlate with some education standard or practice that only educators can appreciate.

I can trace my STEM start back to when I was about 9 years old. One event set me on a course that I still follow. It had nothing to do with the math or the science behind that one event. It had nothing to do with what was going on in my classes. It was all about being amazed that my older brother could build a radio in his bedroom, right before my eyes. BTW: My brother's STEM start was a 4H Club program that our father had enrolled him in.

It so happens that my wise brother, 14, also gave me a couple of books to read that explains how it works. I was first amazed, then enlightened on how I too could produce such magic. From that day forward, I pursued my interests outside of the classroom, on my own, with the support of my brother, parents and family.

I'm proposing that getting students to pursue STEM related careers has nothing to do with the science and math students are taught in the classroom. Young people don't care why or how things work. It's all about sparking interest in the magic and the mystery and the hype and the cool and the crazy things we can do with STEM.

March 18, 2016
By Tony Clayvon

If we keep doing the same things, we'll get the same results...

STEM stats suggest that we have a problem. I don't believe that the problem showed up overnight. I can only conclude that what we have been doing is not working anymore; and may not have worked at all for some (URMs). We need to do something different or we'll continue to get the same results.

I have to acknowledge or consider, that the popular programs - Lego, Vex, and even the hugely popular FIRST - are not meeting the need and filling the STEM pipeline. I've concluded that the students who get involved in FIRST are already on the right path. FIRST requires a serious commitment from the students, parents, and volunteers. These are ingredients for success that are difficult to come by. I believe we need to figure out how to reach more of the students that are not already on the path.

Those organizations who are considering starting a STEM program may not want to take the time or effort to consider all options. So they make the easy choice, the popular programs that have figured out how to market and promote to educators, to make their jobs easier, promising a turn-key path to STEM. But maybe that's not what we need. Not what the students need.

Maybe we need something different. Let me start with this counter-intuitive suggestion - I believe we need to de-emphasize the math and science to get more students into math and science. 21st Century students need 21st century technology "hyped to the max", not more math and science fundamentals. I trust that our educators have the fundamentals under control. The math and science should be implied or presented in a non-intimidating way. It's the cool things we can do with the math and science that's interesting.

Also, the parents have to be convinced and made believers too. I believe that parents will be dissappointed to see their students being presented with the same old stuff that they themselves may have struggled with. News Flash - many students and parents don't like math or don't understand it. It may not be helpful to tell them that their futures depends on math.

I believe we can make progress by sparking the imaginations of the students, and engaging them in a way that builds confidence. Confidence to be producers as well as consumers of technology. I believe the best way to do that is outside the traditional classroom, through extra-curricular activities. I believe that if we gain the interest of the students and the support of the parents, they will do whatever's necessary (the math and the science) to pursue their interests.

March 18, 2016
By Tony Clayvon

3E Robotics - The Big Picture

It has been difficult sometimes to explain in a few words what 3E Robotics is all about. In a few words, my goal is to engage students with technology that builds confidence and encourages them to consider STEM related careers.

21st Century technology is not just for technology geeks, it requires an eco-system consisting of people with a variety of skills. My technology of choice is life-size humanoid robotics. Humanoid robotics covers a lot of territory. It covers several engineering disciplines, physical sciences, social sciences, and art.

The humanoid aspect fosters an inherent familiarity that helps to build confidence. I believe that sticking with a consistent context for all of the activities, humanoid robotics, will facilitate the positive transfer of skills and leave more lasting impressions.

From a business perspective, to reach as many students as possible, I would like to focus on providing the robots and related instructional content to support other organizations in their STEM related activities.

Currently, I am building robots and apps to emphasize software coding to control humanoid robots. The experts suggest there is a huge need for software people now and in the future.

My future plans are to setup and support maker spaces to further engage students in the fabrication and assembly of humanoid robots.

Additionally, I recognize the appeal of competitions, and plan to sponsor and support competitions based upon the student's humanoid robot activities. Specifically, competitions suitable for multi-disciplinary teams that include technologist, artist, choreographers, writers, and others.

It's difficult to explain, and maybe even more difficult to achieve, but I am excited and confident and dedicated to making it happen.

March 18, 2016
By Tony Clayvon