Teens go robotic at ETSU tech camp

For the past week, they have been coding and building their own robots with the guidance of the East Tennessee State University Department of Computing. During their series of summer coding and tech camps, which was promoted in partnership with the Niswonger Foundation, the department has worked to teach the students more about programming 3D-printed robots.

According to Mathew Desjardins, the camp director for the department of computing, many of these students have already learned some basic programming over the past week. Interestingly, the robots they’ve been working on can move on their own when they are carefully and correctly programmed.

“This can run on it’s own,” Desjardins said. “It has a lot of different sensor networks.”

As he demonstrated how the robots work, Desjardins said one of the biggest hurdles for the students is learning the computing. In a sense, Desjardins said these students will have to learn how to program “logic” into these robots in order for the sensors to work properly.


And that takes a lot of know-how.

“I think the programming will be the most tedious portion of it,” he said. “They’ll have to have it to where it can sense a wall to know which direction to go. That takes some logic. The reason that’s so tedious is because people are not familiar with it. It’s just something you don’t see everyday.”

Desjardin said 3D printing in particular has come a long way in the last few years, and he believes that students will be able to make an entire robot out of a 3D printer in the future. But for this project, all of the “classic” pieces and plastic components of the robots’ bodies were made by a 3D printer, according to Desjardins.

“The only thing that wasn’t produced by the 3D printer was the electronic parts, the motor and the wheels,”…

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