robo4you offers workshops in the field of robotics. The organization uses Proxmox Virtual Environment in a 10-node cluster and can therefore easily provide services for teaching. Students can learn virtual robotics through distance learning and the cluster is also used for machine learning and AI.
robo4you is a nonprofit organization that helps promote science and technology in schools. The mission is to train and encourage students in the field of robotics, with an emphasis on preparing them for and engaging them in international competitions. In 2023, the Austrian team wins the International Botball® Tournament at the Global Conference on Educational Robotics (GCER) held in St. Augustin/Florida (USA).
Robust IT infrastructure with 10-node cluster
At the club's laboratory in Wiener Neustadt (Austria), a robust IT infrastructure has been established over the years. According to Alexander Lampalzer, board member and IT representative of robo4you, Proxmox Virtual Environment has been used as the preferred virtualization solution for a while now:
"We currently operate a 10-node cluster using Proxmox Virtual Environment in our lab. Students can gain knowledge in robotics through the virtual environment. We also run workshops, training courses, machine learning, and AI applications on the cluster."
Moodle and Gazebo
„With Proxmox VE, we can efficiently provide basic teaching services. Deploying the Moodle learning platform and computationally intensive simulation environments, such as Gazebo – a well-known simulation tool for visualizing robots – no longer pose barriers to us."
Cloning template VMs
"We utilize Proxmox VE for our training VMs: As part of their course, students are assigned to configure their own Linux environment and in this use case, virtualization eliminates the need for physical hardware. By cloning a template VM, we can establish a foundation for this task efficiently."
Engaging lessons thanks to effortless scaling
"Moreover, the cluster functionality of Proxmox VE did boost our machine learning applications resource availability promptly. Scaling is effortless and quick, yielding faster results for our students, leading to more dynamic and engaging lessons."
"The Covid-19 pandemic also has emphasized the value of online education. We successfully incorporated Proxmox VE into distance learning, allowing students to operate their robots from home. This approach enabled them to work on their robots remotely in a virtual environment, boosting their motivation and allowing for flexibility in terms of time and location.
Homogeneous and simplified IT infrastructure
The association has been around since 2010, and over time, robo4you has developed a highly varied IT infrastructure. However, the infrastructure required plenty of maintenance and was prone to errors. Currently, the club’s laboratory utilizes HP ProLiant Server Gen8 and Gen9, as well as the HPE BladeSystem Center as its hardware. The infrastructure is comprised mostly of donated or second-hand – but still enterprise-level – hardware. With the assistance of a virtualization technology, the aim was to standardize and simplify maintenance procedures.
"With the Proxmox VE solution, we were particularly impressed by its open-source character and free availability," Alexander enthuses. "During the evaluation phase and the initial tests, we were able to draw on a lot of support from the community. We were actually so convinced by Proxmox VE straight away that we didn't even evaluate any other solutions."
"Initially, we only used Proxmox VE on non-production systems, on which we set up VMs for training courses, for example. Only after a certain training period, once we were familiar enough with the software, did we also migrate our production systems."
"The first steps with Proxmox VE were very quick and easy. Thanks to the support of the wonderful community and the helpful Proxmox team, we were able to resolve any issues we encountered. Using Proxmox Virtual Environment has streamlined our IT system maintenance, making it faster and effortless. In addition, the prompt provisioning of new resources for our training courses and workshops has been invaluable."
Board member and IT officer
It all started with an optional subject at the Higher Technical Education Institute Wiener Neustadt, an engineering-focused college for higher vocational education. Over the years, robo4you has developed into an association with its own laboratory, sponsors, workshops and events, in which former members - now students or professionals - continue to be active alongside the pupils. The purpose of the association is to provide training in robotics and to prepare for and participate in international competitions. There are many successes to report: In addition to the robotics world championship title in 2023, over 700 people have won a total of 13 world championship titles and dozens of European championship titles since the association was founded in 2010. Additionally, robo4you offers workshops in the field of robotics and supports its graduates in participating in university competitions after graduation. The name robo4you is the brand for the nonprofit organization for the Promotion of Science and Technology in Schools (F-WuTS) and the club currently consists of 78 students, 5 teachers and more than 700 graduates.