DorkbotPDX 0x01

DorkbotPDX 0x01 will be taking place on March 30th at the PNCA Graduate Studios building (1432 NW Johnson St.). We are planning to start things around 6, though there will probably be time to socialize a bit before the talks start.

Note: If possible, please RSVP over on Upcoming.

The lineup of speakers is:

  • Cathy Swider - Using LEGO Mindstorm NXT robots with students to create art
  • Ward Cunningham - What If Bacteria Designed Computers?
  • David Frech - Bootstrap yourself into conviviality by writing your own Forth

Talk Descriptions:

Using LEGO Mindstorm NXT robots with students to create art. As alternative to competitive competitions or skill challenges, LEGO ArtBots facilitates students to learn basic programming and robotic mechanical design for the purpose of creating line drawings or watercolor paintings. Students write short programs and attach sub-assemblies to hold brushes and markers to create the art. The robot moves autonomously with the assistance of light, touch and rotation sensors creating interesting and sometimes unpredictable results. It is hoped this approach will generate interest in engineering and computer science among new groups of students.

What If Bacteria Designed Computers? This talk explores Bynase, the biologically inspired protocol that Cybord computers use to signal values amongst themselves. The primary value of Bynase is that it drives system designers into novel tradeoffs with analogies in biological systems. A second value of Bynase is that it encourages casual small-scale hardware/software projects suitable for one-off art or educational projects.

Bootstrap yourself into conviviality by writing your own Forth. Forth is a simple language that yet has enormous expressive power. This paradox invites investigation. In this talk David proposes to explain - abstractly at first by talking about some philosophical ideals that Forth embodies, and then concretely by giving a short tutorial of the language that I implemented, muForth - how Forth can be both simple and powerful.

Speaker Bios:

Cathy Swider is the Project Administrator for the Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program (ORTOP), a program of Industry Affairs, Oregon University System. She has been involved with LEGO Robotics for seven years as a FIRST LEGO League Coach, co-founder of the LEGO Robotics Day Camp for Girls and Girl Scouts-ArtBot Camp. She is currently working with Saturday Academy and Grant High School to introduce LEGO ArtBots to more students.

Ward Cunningham, best known as the inventor of the Wiki, is a computer programmer who takes inspiration from life's processes ranging from cell signaling to cultural evolution. His day jobs include serving as Chief Technology Officer of, a growth company hosting the communities formed by organizations and their constituents. Ward also co-founded the consultancy, Cunningham & Cunningham, Inc., has served as a Director of the Eclipse Foundation, an Architect in Microsoft's Patterns & Practices Group, the Director of R&D at Wyatt Software and as Principle Engineer in the Tektronix Computer Research Laboratory.

David has been tinkering with computing devices since the mid-70s, starting with a Motorola 6800 evaluation kit and an Altair 8800. He was introduced to Forth in 1980; didn't understand it completely until about 1990; and since then has implemented Forth at least four times. He is currently interested in using modern functional languages (such as Haskell and OCaml) as target compilers.