Lots of blood, sweat and tears – well, maybe only figurative tears – went into taking these working robots from concept to operational models. No cute little Lego bots here meant to challenge each other to duels – these were ‘industrial’ tools meant to be workhorses. Each of the 4 teams put between 50 to 60 hours outside class into their creations.
The assignment sounded simple on paper – make a robotic device that would assemble something you would expect to find in a toy store – but proved to be much more challenging in reality. Not only did students need to come up with an idea but they had to create the code that would actually drive the robot’s actions.
Team 1 – Kyle Masters-Gutierrez and Ryan Lee wanted to work on a project that offered a challenge but would also be something they could complete within the time constraints. They decided to create a bracelet maker. The robot had to coordinate a wrist-measuring mechanism then spin the nylon bracelet to that size. One lesson they quickly learned was to make sure the measurement was taken at the hands widest point rather than at the wrist so they bracelet would fit over the hand.
Team 2 – Edward Hartwig and Zach Childers devised a robot to make Bristle Bots – clever little toothbrush heads that danced across the table. They saw one on YouTube and decided that’s what they wanted to do. Coming up with a project idea was the easy part. Developing a working model – not so much. Figuring out how to get the tiny circuit board onto the toothbrush head proved to be the biggest challenge. They finally settled on pre-gluing each circuit onto a board so the robot dispenser could attach the tiny piece to the toothbrush head.
Team 3 – Luis Villavelazquez and Chaozi Tan tried out a few ideas and settled on a robot that would feed aluminum wire into an arm that would then bend it into 2D shapes. Their first idea was to have a robot make walnut shell boats but decided that project would require too much precision and they wouldn’t make their deadline. Learning to work effectively as a team was the most important lesson these two felt they gained from the exercise.
Team 4 – Michelle Washington’s teammate dropped out of the class after it was too late for her to join another team. She brought the project to life but not without a lot of help from her classmates. She was grateful for the support everyone gave her as they offered ideas and suggestions on how to make her robot build the toy car that was the basis for her project. A water bottle was positioned on a board that lifted the bottle and then pushed wheels into place.
While the class was rigorous, the students all felt like the time they put into it was well worth the effort.
Check out the YouTube videos of the projects. Click on the Engineering Playlist.