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Real Robotics Builds Aspiration

UTS Engineering and IT's 'Make a Real Robot' Summer SchoolThe UTS Engineering and IT faculty has a new cohort of budding engineers! From Monday 9 January until Friday 20 January 2012, over 25 young and engaged minds aged 15-17 years from high schools in south-western Sydney attended a ‘Make a Real Robot’ Summer School at UTS Broadway Campus.

This Robotics school holiday experience - now in its’ third year - has become a key date on the Faculty Outreach calendar. The “Make a Real Robot” school is part a wider U@Uni “Make it Real Summer School” run by the Equity and Diversity Unit. This forms part of a UTS response to the Widening Participation Strategy and aims to boost enthusiasm for HSC study and beyond, demystify university, build interpersonal skills and raise personal aspirations. The “Make it Real Summer School” Program includes five different summer schools including design, science, film, nursing as well as robotics, and brings on campus, students from low SES and Indigenous backgrounds. The students who took part in the program will be part of a suite of U@Uni follow up activities during years 11 and 12.

During their time within the faculty, both male and female students worked in small teams to build either a humanoid or animal-like robot which could respond to user demands.

Students were introduced to concepts within the field of robotics by Dr Nathan Kirchner and UTS student mentors with a biomedical, mechanical, mechatronic or electrical engineering background. Throughout the two weeks of challenging creativity, students learnt about programming, motors, sensors, mechanics and software, all to make their robot come to life.

Alyce Ly from Canley Vale High School cites: “The best part of the UTS Summer School is meeting new people and working on projects and challenges”.

Benjamin Lac also from Canley Vale High reflected on his robotics experience: “The best part of UTS Summer School was to get into groups considering everyone’s opinion and having a competition to see errors occurring in the robot’.

Robot Summer School leader and UTS academic, Dr Nathan Kirchner, afforded the opportunity to inspire students further into a technical degree program following high school by talking about his RobotAssist project which aims to improve the life of people into the future.

RobotAssist is run through the UTS Centre for Intelligent Mechatronic Systems and is part of the former Federal Government’s Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems (CAS) – a program that aims to become a world leader and the national focus for the research, development and commercial application of intelligent autonomous systems.

“Make a Real Robot” Summer School students from 2012 will be able to apply for university study from 2014 onwards -just in time for the opening of the new UTS Faculty of Engineering & IT Broadway Building. Meanwhile students are warmly encouraged to continue to come back to UTS and participate in further ‘Hands on’ exploratory activities throughout their senior years of high school by engaging in the Faculty’s extensive Outreach Program between February and December each year.

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