University of Verona
The University of Verona (UNIVR) was established about 25 years ago, after being for the previous 20 years an external campus of the University of Padova. UNIVR consists of eight Faculties, the largest being Medicine, followed by Economics and Science. About 21,000 students are enrolled at UNIVR, which also counts about 500 faculty members. The Faculty of Science includes the three departments of Computer Science, Bio-Technologies and Wine Science, and it has established itself as one of the leading Italian institutions in these disciplines. In particular, the Department of Computer Science has about 50 faculty members and approximately 2,000 students, who specialize in the areas of Visual Computing, Embedded Systems, Bio-Informatics, Theoretical Computer Science and Information Systems.
The Altair Robotics Laboratory is part of both curricula of Embedded Systems and it graduates about 10 students per year, with theses addressing control theoretical aspects and application oriented problems. The robotics laboratory was established in 2001, and it has steadily grown in member number and resource availability, reaching about 30 people, including doctoral and master students, post-docs and interns, and managing five European projects.
In the past years, the focus of the laboratory research has been on robotic surgery, which stems from the work on teleoperation and tele-robotics developed since the establishment of the laboratory. Altair is the coordinator of three EU-funded projects in robotic surgery, spanning from patient safety, to automation in surgery, to modularity in surgical robotics.
Education, both in robotics and using robots, has received a continuous attention by the laboratory members. Robotic courses for High School students were carried out for several years, as well as courses for teachers and Middle School students. The ECHORD project has opened the possibility of developing a course for engineers interested in “using” service robots, rather “researching” new robotic devices.
What motivates us
The long term focus on education is one of the objectives of Altair, the robotics laboratory of the University of Verona. Using Robots, we have developed curricula for various school types and grades, from elementary schools to surgical schools. ECHORD allows us to focus on an education segment that we have not addressed so far, i.e. professional education in robotics. This goal seems obvious, but unfortunately universities are mostly focusing on the research aspects of robotics, rather than to instruct students on how to use current robotic technologies. The possibility of participating to ECHORD with an education oriented project has been our main reason to apply for the program.