Fall 2021 Workshop Series

We are creating a series of introductory workshops with the goal of teaching students more about practical robotics! The workshops this year will deal with creating a 6-DOF robotic arm that can detect and then pick up a cube from a table.

What will be covered?

  • Computer-Aided Design (CAD) in Fusion 360
  • Robot Operating System (ROS)
  • Kinematics for Robot Manipulators
  • 3D Printing with Cura
  • Programming in C++ and Python
  • Computer Vision using AprilTags and OpenCV

Our Robotic Arm

Powered by seven servo motors, housed in a 3D printed body. Six degrees of freedom for motion. Count 'em.

We can model the kinematics of this arm through 3D space, which allows us to set desired poses for its gripper.


Workshop Number

Workshop Topic

Taught by




Intro to CAD

Fran Daszak


Meliora 221


Intro to ROS

Benned Hedegaard

10/1/21 Harkness 210



Fran Daszak

10/8/21 Meliora 221


Kinematics and URDF

Benned Hedegaard

10/15/21 Meliora 221


3D Printing and Fabrication

Joe Vaccarella

10/22/21 Meliora 221


AprilTags w/ OpenCV

Benned Hedegaard


Meliora 221

Per-Workshop Breakdown

Workshop 1 - Introduction to CAD in Fusion 360 (9/24)

This workshop will explore the basic functions needed to create designs in CAD, including sketches, extrusions, cuts, and assemblies. No prior CAD experience is needed, as this workshop will begin from scratch.

Workshop 2 - How and Why to Use ROS (10/1)

ROS, the Robot Operating System, enables modular and reusable robotics software development. Its open-source ecosystem includes tools for building and debugging code as well as pre-written packages implementing common robotics algorithms. This workshop will first explore the ideas involved during ROS software development: nodes, topics, messages, and packages. We then survey examples of the syntax and commands used to write and build ROS code in C++ and Python. By the end of this workshop, you will understand how robotics software architectures in ROS are designed, written, and used in practice.

Workshop 3 - Intermediate CAD in Fusion 360 (10/8)

This workshop will go deeper into the functions of Fusion 360. Students will learn how to create more complex assemblies with dependencies, assigning materials and colors, creating renders, and some simple stress simulations.

Workshop 4 - Kinematics for Robot Manipulators (10/15)

This workshop will introduce kinematics, which are the mathematical foundations needed to control any robotic arm. First, we├óÔé¼Ôäóll discuss direct kinematics, which will allow us to express a given arm├óÔé¼Ôäós posture as a function of its mechanical structure and joint angles. Next, inverse kinematics will allow us to compute the joint angles needed to reach particular positions with the end-effector of the arm. Finally, we├óÔé¼Ôäóll discuss the Unified Robot Description Format (URDF) which allows us to represent robot models using XML for use in ROS projects.

Workshop 5 - 3D Printing and Fabrication (10/22)

In this workshop, we will cover methods to optimize the workshop arm CAD files for 3D printing. This includes optimizations such as chamfers on the bottom edges of the part and rounded part corners. We will also discuss CAD design that keeps manufacturing limitations in mind. For example, when deciding which machine to use, we must take into account which directions we'll be cutting the majority of material from, and act accordingly.

Workshop 6 - Computer Vision for Robotics (10/29)

We end this semester├óÔé¼Ôäós workshop series by adding vision to our robot arm. For this workshop, we├óÔé¼Ôäóll use AprilTags (think robot QR codes) as a tool to locate objects in the world relative to a camera. This will allow our arm to locate cubes in the world and finally pick something up!

Frequently Asked Questions

(at least those we anticipate)

When and where are the workshops?

All workshops will be presented in person on Fridays from 5-7PM. See the above table for locations (mostly Meliora 221).

Are there other ways to get help on the workshop content?

Please reach out to Benned, Fran, or Joe via Discord if you have questions. The presenter for a given workshop is a great place to start!

How can we access workshop content?

All workshop slides will be uploaded to Google Drive. Code is forthcoming on GitHub.

What if I miss a workshop?

All workshops are designed to be accessible to a general college-age audience. Apart from CAD II, which depends on CAD I, all workshops present independent content.