My school has a FIRST Robotics team, and during Build Season (typically early January to late February) we have students who spend tons of hours after school working on our robot creations (software, wiring, hardware, drive train, etc.). We have always struggled to keep track of the hours that our students spend, partly to know who really contributes (and therefore should be rewarded) and partly to know when to tell a student to go home and get some sleep. For the past few years we’ve had various mechanisms which included typing in the student ID number (a six digit number), and some program (usually VB based) would record who was going in and when they arrived / left. I say "various mechanisms" because it always seemed that the programs were usually written by a student, typically a senior, and they had some bug(s), and when the bugs were identified the author either graduated or lacked the desire to fix it, so the program would be rewritten, etc.
Recently, one of our students heard of a Microsoft Fingerprint Reader for sale, and the other day I told him to purchase the fairly inexpensive ($50) device for the team. He got the reader on Thursday night; Friday (yesterday) I directed him to a website offering an SDK to read the reader (he already found it!), and this afternoon he had it identifying fingers. (THIS is why I love teaching students programming!)
I told him today that I would be sending him a specification of what I wanted in the logging program, so that we could try to avoid the pitfalls of previous programs; as I told his father, this will be his first REAL introduction to professional software development. I don’t think it will be too long before Team 811 has the niftiest time recording program in all of FIRST. (Of course, once perfected, we’ll make it available to all of the teams …) But it really makes me smile when I see the next generation get excited about programming.
COMMENTS FROM theSpoke:
Sounds like a great little project. having seen some of the previous projects it will be interesting to hear how this one works out with a little more product management than some of the previous ones. Good luck!