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New Associate Degree to boost skills in developing sensors

A new Associate Degree in Applied Technologies is being offered at the University of Tasmania.

Two local students were given a taste of what the degree feels like and what it takes to be an automation professional through the creation of two cyborg puppets for a summer festival held in Launceston.

According to a recent report, the two students have spent the past few weeks bringing the large puppets to life by rigging them with sensor technology to allow control of their limb movement.

The two faced many pressures and the chaos of designing and implementing a technical and artistic project in a real workplace.

It was good fun but crazy with lots of time pressure, people to negotiate with and tonnes of background noise thanks to this being a working exhibition space.

The puppets are currently mounted on the wall at the Academy Gallery and can be controlled through wireless sensors by members of the public willing to give the technology a try.

The project highlight was seeing how quickly the puppets took shape with the tools and technology used to bring them to life.

There was a lot of trial and error involved especially in trying to figure out how the motor works to control the puppets.

The puppets will be really visible so anyone who comes along, to see them, can play puppeteer and interact with them by activating the sensors and seeing what they do.

According to the University College Coordinator-Associate Degree (Applied Technologies) Dr Anna Carew, when they designed the Applied Technologies Associate Degree, they went out and talked to industry about what they wanted from the graduates.

The industry wanted graduates who could cope with the full range of things that life throws at them when they are trying to do a real project.

Graduates need to be technically proficient, but can also communicate clearly with other people, have some humility, work to tight deadlines and also be very creative in the way they solve problems.

Most real-life problems do not have clear-cut answers, and the students showed great lateral thinking in finding the best solution.

With sensors omnipresent and influencing everyday lives, Dr Carew said the Applied Technologies course was catering to a growth area.

A lot of people would realise there are sensors everywhere in our lives.

They are in the cars, the buildings, in the phones, and these sensors are relied on to collect information that helps make life more convenient for everyone.

The Tasmanian industry needs people who have a good understanding, not just of what those sensors are doing, but how to calibrate them, how to troubleshoot them, how to get the information they collect into useful forms to support decision-making, and how to apply them in new areas.

These people would allow the industry to develop things like value-added primary products, the metals refining industry and the advanced manufacturing.

They could make the buildings smarter as well as improve the approaches to healthcare. There are so many places that sensors have the potential to change how people live and do business.

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