Teaching Robotic Systems Control

One of the things that always excited me, even as a young student, was to be able to explain things that we learned at school/university at my colleagues. And one of the reasons for choosing an academic career was because of this internal drive to explain to others. You can imagine then that teaching for me is not a secondary obligation as an academic, but it is part of the fun part of it!

In general I was very lucky with my academic career so far. I had an amazing team to collaborate with during my PhD in KU Leuven, which led not only to a fruitful thesis, but also great collaboration during my post-doctoral years. I had a very warm welcome in my new home in Cluj-Napoca, and more specifically in the ROCON group of the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. After only a year as an external collaborator, they offered a full-time permanent position, and eventually I received also a post-doctoral grant from the agency for research (UEFISCDI). And eventually, I started teaching courses as well (not only laboratories), even though the level of my position does not require it yet (University assistant).

This semester, I had the chance to take care of the theoretical and practical sessions of the Robotic Systems Control course for the English line of studies (until now I was only responsible for the laboratories). It was a very exciting experience, because when you are coordinating both parts of the course, you have greater possibilities to interract with the students and understand them better. This allowed me to adapt both parts according to their needs, which is very satisfactory. I also had the chance for the first time to develop my own slides for a course, a resource that I hope I’ll be able to reuse and improve in the years to come.

My main focus was with the fundamental concepts of Robotics, mainly those of transformation matrices. It was something that it took me quite some effort to fully understand (I am still not sure I fully get it), and I saw many frustrated students not being able to deal with them properly. Therefore I decided to create very clear animations to help them understand the operations, what do they represent, and how to think in 3D. I made all these not just with my students in mind, but also whoever else might be interested in learning these concepts. That’s why I also publish all the material on this website. If you find it useful, or if you have any suggestions for improvement, please write me a line.

Both me and my students will appreciate it :)

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Tassos Natsakis
Lecturer on Robotics and Biomechanics

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