STC robotics camp reinforcing STEM knowledge in Valley

McALLEN — Students from all over the Rio Grande Valley got a chance to expand their science knowledge this week at the Robotics and Automation Summer Camp at the South Texas College Technology Campus.

The one-week summer camps, which began in June and will run through July, teach students about the depth of robotics by using components of computer science, engineering, math, automation technology or advanced manufacturing.

The summer camp is divided into three sections: Camp A utilizes Lego Mindstorms Education EV3 Robotics System, Camp B covers advanced robotic and industrial automation systems, and Camp C utilizes First Tech Challenge robotic parts and components to build specific environmental robots.

Nelson Carrasquero, a South Texas College professor and robotics instructor and coordinator, said that he teaches an array of students with some that have knowledge in robotics and others that do not, but want to learn how to use robotics with all students.

“We start some basic routines like starting a path, then go complex, like program the sensors in the robots. They’re given 10 different challenges the whole week; within those challenges they have mini-competitions,” Carrasquero said.

“It’s a mixture of exposing them to math, exposing them to technology, exposing them to robotics, but at the same time having fun during that time.”

This summer FTC was added, which allows students the ability of designing, building, and programming their robots. Although the program usually takes three months, it’s condensed for the summer program.

“This year, I was surprised that there are some students that have been exposed to coding while others I need to start with baby steps,” Carrasquero said. “With the final two days they get to have fun and do things on their own.”

Carlos Martinez, camp facilitator and organizer, said that the camp is for elementary to high school students who want to pursue a career in the Science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

“We are trying to develop the technical level of the workforce in the Rio Grande Valley,” Martinez said.

“Right now in the industry, we’re developing a skill level that can be increased like those in the East Coast that have schools like Harvard, MIT.”

McAllen resident Glenda Ramee enrolled her 9-year-old grandson Larry in the robotics camp.

“He has done robotics in school and likes it, but here he learned algorithms.” Ramee said.

“I learned new math, algorithms, degrees, angles and thinking skills; things that would help us in the future,” Larry said. “My dream is to be an engineer and this will help me in the future.”

Throughout the week, they were divided into teams and learned to build their own robot by using highly advanced programming software on the computer to a cellphone that is connected to the robot for motion.

Certificates of recognition are given upon completion of training during the summer camp week.

Find out more

For more information in the summer camp and to register, call the technology campus at 956-872-6197.