By Ely Schosek
At Springville-Griffith Institue High School, every student is presented with a plethora of courses outside of the standard academic classes like English, math, science, social studies and foreign languages.
SGI features an innumerable amount of courses in other departments like art, music, business, agriculture and especially technology.
As students progress through their four years in high school, more and more options open up. Specifically, in regard to the technology department, there are numerous courses for students past the fundamental class. Each of these more advanced courses is tailored to teach students important skills concerning that area of technology.
The SGI Technology Department offers courses on aerospace, architecture, woodworking; Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD-CAM), small engine, welding, video game design and development.
The Introduction to Robotics class is a half-year elective, and so far, the group has completed two projects and is in the process of completing a third. The first was relatively basic: dragsters, which are just robots that can reach high speed quickly for a race. This project gave the group a chance to get their feet wet with the software and design process.
Following the dragsters project, the class designed autonomous robots capable of navigating around blocks. The autonomous aspect of the project means that a code is pre-designed allowing the robot to perform without human input.
These projects are organized in order of increasing difficulty, each building on skills and techniques obtained from the last one.
In regard to the technical aspects of the design process, students use a program on the computer to write a code. They then connect the robot motherboard and the computer via a USB which allows them to download the code to the robot.
As the students are building their bots, they always want to think about weight among other factors — the lighter, the better.
“On the stair climbing bot we are doing now, you have to see how tall the stairs are and how far apart so you can build your bot to the right length,” said Daniel Gernatt. Before they build anything, there’s a lot of design on paper.
“I think about the most efficient and simple way to complete the task and once we have the frame put together with all the motors on it, it’s time to figure out what type of gearing to use,” Charley DiGangi noted. “The gearing depends on if you want a max speed or if you want max torque for climbing.”
For each project, they work in partners which allows them to bounce ideas off of each other.
As with many of SGI’s technology classes, students are given much freedom to design and that it something students enjoy. For instance, Daniel said, “I enjoy the creative freedom and the challenge it gives”.
“I would recommend the class, but it’s definitely not for everyone,” Charley said. “I personally just use the class as a time to have fun in school and to do a little problem solving and designing.”
SGI’s Robotics class may not be for everyone but for students interested in that type of computer-based design process and problem-solving, it is a great course to take that not everyone knows about!