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Designing robots and career paths

Designing robots and career paths

Education, PPG Foundation

At the A.W. Beattie Career Center, high school students aren’t just learning about future career paths in robotics, automation, manufacturing and engineering. They are experiencing them first-hand.

With a grant from the PPG Foundation, the students’ classroom and coursework is supplemented with opportunities to program, build and operate their own robots, participate in robotics competitions and more! Through a robotics summer camp and competition team, the students are learning fundamental skills that can be carried into a variety of career paths.

Sharing new technologies and real-life experiences

“The goal of our robotics program is to expose our students to new technologies and provide real-life experience and skills for an advantage in their careers or next educational opportunities,” said Clifton Bossong, Assessment and S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) coordinator and robotics mentor at A.W. Beattie Career Center. “The PPG grant not only provides access to the latest technologies, it breaks down financial barriers and allows all interested students the opportunity to participate.” 

As part of the robotics summer camp program, students spend four days building a robot and programing it to complete tasks like picking up objects or running an obstacle course. As robotics technologies and software are continuously evolving, the PPG grant funded updated robotics kits and programming tools.

Putting robotics skills to the test

The career center also offers students the chance to join Team 2051, a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition team, which is an eight-week build season where students put their mechanical, electrical, programming and design skills to the test to create a robot to compete at regional competitions. With the help of professional mentors, the students come together in teams of three to enable their robots to do tasks which earn them points in the competitions. From throwing a ball to spinning a wheel, the complex tasks provide ever-changing challenges to the teams.

For Bossong, one of his favorite Team 2051 memories occurred when the teams were challenged to create a robot that could climb steps. His students took an innovative approach and united their teams to work together. They instead built a robot to transform into a ramp and allow the other teams to bypass the steps and earn extra points at the end of the match. Click here to learn more about Team 2051.

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