BeamPro Robot In Use

Making Robotic Transformations

Teaching to students at two different campuses can be challenging, but now the tables are turning, as one RHS professor is challenging his students to incorporate technology in new ways

Bridging the teaching and learning gap across two different campuses is always challenging but Rehabilitation and Human Services Professor Garrett Huck has done just that.

“I’ve challenged my students in a way that requires a specific kind of technology integration for RHS 401: Community and Mental Health,” explains Huck. “In the professional and clinical world, beyond their degrees, these students will have to learn how to incorporate the newest technologies into their lives in order to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently.”

What technology is Huck referring to? The BeamPro Smart Presence System. Thanks to a loan from Suitable Technologies, the BeamPro robot is being piloted at Penn State. This system allows individuals to be remotely present anywhere through a robot that can be driven around via a computer application.

"There's never been a technology that affords you this kind of freedom, and I think it changes the way that we will eventually collaborate or communicate over distances,” said Chris Stubbs, manager of emerging technology and media at Penn State Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT).

So far, faculty, staff and students have been trying the BeamPro at University Park, Penn State Lehigh Valley, Penn State DuBois, and now a collaboration between Penn State Hazleton and Penn State Wilkes-Barre.

“I created a group project centered on identifying strategies to combat stigmatisms about mental health as RHS professionals,” states Huck. “The groups were to conduct interviews with people in their own lives on stigmas and attitudes. The groups then had to present their findings together. The physical group members were located at the Hazleton campus with the BeamPro which represented the Wilkes-Barre students. The students controlling the robot were seen on the screen and could freely walk around the room and talk to those present.”

Teaching and Learning with Technology has had two BeamPro robots on an open loan for approximately 18 months to figure out how they can be used in education and to determine the interest level for such technologies at Penn State, according to Stubbs. Long-term plans to use the robots are still to be determined.

“For me, I am gathering student feedback on the projects and the integration of the BeamPro in order to see how I can move forward with it in my future classroom endeavors,” says Huck.