GW Pre-College Robotics Course

During the summers of 2011 and 2012, I had the honor of being the instructor for a two week long non-credit course on robotics for high school students which was part of GWU's Pre-College summer program. The class focused on giving the students a broad introduction to the field of Computer Science and Robotics through a variety of guest lectures, site visits, and hands on assignments with Lego Mindstorms. Students learned the basics of Java and how to program a simple robot.

Slides and Course Materials

These are the course materials that I created, from lecture slides to the syllabus. The syllabus is no longer accurate, as the class quickly diverged from the original plan and lessons where added, removed, and modified. Please refer to the Resources heading for links to the software we utilized.

Scotty's Lecture

A day long crash course in the basics of Java from fellow graduate student Scotty Smith. It covers almost everything needed for the course, and includes installation instuctions and basic exercises for the LeJOS / Mindstorms platform.


In class we use LeJOS, a compact Java runtime, on Lego Mindstorms. This allows the students to write full Java programs on the Lego platform.

  • Official Lego Mindstorms Site: Has resouces for the Mindstorms inluding the neccessary USB driver.
  • LeJOS: Includes the LeJOS download, getting started tutorials, and documentation for the LeJOS API
  • Sun Java Download: The official Java download, with links to the Java API. Remember that the "JDK" is required to write Java programs.

Going Further

There is a multitude of resources out there for aspiring roboticist, these are just a few.

  • Let's Make Robots: Great tutorials of hobby robotics.
  • DIY Drones: How to get started with homemade Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAV).
  • US FIRST: Robotics competitions for High Schools.
  • AUVSI competitions: Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International student collegic competitions