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STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) addresses critical foundation skills desperately needed in the workforce, but how do you encourage the next generation to explore these fields? The solution is to engage students at a young age and expose them to the various and rewarding careers that STEM can open doors to. With that in mind, each summer in Indiana, Amatrol, a developer of technical learning systems, offers local students a phenomenal experience at its 2-week Robotics Engineering Summer Camp with the intent to promote careers in STEM. This exciting camp is available to students entering 9th grade in the fall and exposes them to the fields of engineering and technology, through robotics.
It is essential to spark an early interest in STEM through programs like the robotics camp, which features skill-based, hands-on experience with state-of-the-art robotics, engineering design, a plant tour, and interviews with working engineers and technologists. Students learn about the many career choices available to students who develop strong academic and technical skills. Attendees learn through a combination of individualized, direct learning of technology units and group instruction.
Programming the Robot to Select a Part from a Feeder
Amatrol’s camp provides students the chance to interact with the very robotics systems used, for example, to train technicians and engineering students. In fact, the same robots used in the camp are used on a mechatronics systems employed by High Schools, Community Colleges, Industrial Training Centers, & Universities. Utilizing an interactive multimedia curriculum, students learn to program the robots as well as to connect various auxiliary devices. During the course of the camp, they will program robots to interact with conveyors, pallet systems, sensors and other devices commonly used in production facilities.
Students also meet and speak with Amatrol’s mechanical and electrical engineers, graphic designers, software developers, and other employees. Through these meetings, students have the opportunity to hear and ask questions about what it’s like working in these fields on a daily basis. Such face-to-face experiences can give students a better idea of how they want to shape their high school experience as well as help them plan their college path via a particular STEM field, like software engineering or industrial maintenance.
Interfacing a Conveyor with the Robot
Participating students have the ability to work at their own pace, pushing themselves, and working in collaboration with a partner. The camp provides self-motivated young people a chance to explore technology in a way that few individuals get the opportunity to experience, and the chance to figure out if a career in technology is right for them. This involves students collaborating together, with their week culminating in the creation of smoothly running projects. A perennial favorite involves two teams programming their robots to play against each other in a game of tic-tac-toe by placing blocks on a custom pallet. It may sound simple, but programming a robot to pick up multiple blocks and precisely placing them in various positions requires dedication, focus, and commitment. All of this does a great deal to help students envision what they’d like to pursue in high school and how that might lead into college.
Ensuring a well-paying career for your child is every parent’s aspiration, and with an abundance of STEM jobs for those with the skills, programs like Amatrol’s Robotics Engineering Summer Camp may provide the inspiration students need to spark an interest in these fields.