engineer-experienceBeing an engineering major is like an easily tipped scale: most days, I like my major of choice. However, there are some days that feel like I’m in a constant uphill battle. I am sure many of you can relate to this. Between Calculus IV at 8 a.m. and a seemingly endless pile of homework, it can be a little overwhelming… but it’s all worth it.

Recently, I’ve been given the chance to apply the skills I’ve accumulated through my engineering classes in a realistic scenario. Gannon University has agreed to sponsor several FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Teams for students in local high schools – and we, as engineering students, were asked to be mentors to these students.

FIRST is an organization that sponsors competitions in which high school students build a robot based on specific criteria they’ve been given. This year, the robot must be able to pick up a ball that’s approximately the size of a regulation tennis ball and have the capability of shooting it into a basket. The robot must be battery powered and must be able to run on its own and be driven manually by a remote control.

Beings as we are only three weeks in, our progress is seemingly a little slow, and the students seemed to be getting frustrated with the lack of progress. But the last time we met, we were able to sit down as a group and come with some ideas as to what we wanted the robot to do. Once we established what it was we were working toward, we were able to proceed. The remainder of the time was productive, which pleased everyone.

Although we are only a few weeks in, I’m seeing the benefits already.  Not only am I getting a chance to help high school students and apply some of the skills I have learned in class, but I also get the chance to work with some of the graduate students in my major and learn from them as well.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this project will unfold!

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Take a look at how fellow blogger David Reichard is also working with high school students.