The undergraduate program has an excellent set of facilities for introductory courses, intermediate courses, and upperclass student research. The department strives for an environment that fosters a community of students and faculty working together on courses and independent research.
For first-year students, the department maintains two high-tech Windows classrooms with computers for each student, and an audio-visual system that allows the instructor to project each student’s display for the entire class. This supports collaborative learning and discussion. One classroom is configured for closed labs where two students work together on a problem set, and the instructor assists with problems. Both classrooms support active learning with the student engaged in doing, not merely listening.
For upperclass students, the department maintains a Linux lab with powerful workstations that have dual 24-inch monitors. The lab also has a discussion area with a large wall monitor so students can collaborate on group projects. The lab is based on Ubuntu Linux because it is a powerful programming development environment, and prepares students for graduate and professional work. This lab provides a good social setting for students so they know where to find classmates as they work on class projects. The Linux lab is supported by substantial file, web, and compute servers that supply additional resources and power.
For all students, the department maintains a Robotic/Computer Engineering hardware lab with specialized equipment for courses and projects. The equipment changes over time. It has hosted a Honeypot network of computers, built by students, which was designed to look like an easy mark for network hackers and to allow students to trace their attacks. Currently the lab has:
- Four small, professional mobile robots (Pioneer P3-DX, ERA Mobi, and two Evolution ERs), along with about 20 small desktop robots (Scribbler, Lego, and Arduino-based).
- A set of advanced robot sensors, including video cameras and professional range sensors (SICK LMS-200 and 291 laser range scanners, a Hokuyo URG-04LX laser range scanner, and a Mesa SR3000 LED range sensor.)
- Computer engineering facilities with hardware design devices and electronic workbench software, so students can design, build, and test their own circuits and small robots.
Outside of the department the campus has more than three hundred PCs— most of which are IBM PCs, but many are Apple Macs—located in labs available to students, many 24/7. A campus network makes accessible on all these computers a wide range of software that supports many courses, including the introductory computer science courses. There are also a digital TV and radio studios on campus for student work.