Robot Helps Students Learn at Pharmacy School

February 19, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Students at the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy can get by with a little help from a friend when they have to miss class.

Students at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Eshelman School of Pharmacy can get by with a little help from a friend when they have to miss class.

Matthew Brown, a student earning his Doctorate of Pharmacy at the school, spoke to UNC’s The Daily Tar Heel about having to miss class due to cancer treatments every 3 weeks. After speaking with the pharmacy school’s director of student affairs, Brown learned that he could have a robot take his spot in class and then see and hear what happens inside the classroom via the robot’s videoconferencing technology.

“It’s been a great benefit because without it, I don’t know that would I be able to actually finish this semester,” Brown told The Daily Tar Heel.

Brown compared the robot to Apple’s FaceTime app and said it was easy to control its volume, height, and movement. The robot especially came in handy for small-group discussions, Brown said.

“It’s a class where we learned a lot from each other—as far as when we come in, we might discuss, basically, mock patients’ cases,” Brown told The Daily Tar Heel. “It’s just been important that I don’t miss that.”

The robot itself costs $2500, though a $500 iPad and $300 charging station are also required. UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy currently owns 3 of these Double Robotics robots, 2 of which are on UNC’s main campus and 1 of which is at the school’s Asheville site.

Students, faculty, and staff are able to reserve the robots 1 day at a time, according to The Daily Tar Heel.