The TCNJ electrical and computer engineering department recently hosted their annual robotics camp, an intensive program that immerses high school STEM students in the college experience. For the past eight years, the camp has provided potential college students with a glimpse into the professional world of engineering. The highly selective camp only accepts high school students who are in the tops of their classes and requires college – like applications including grades and references. While attending this year’s program, the students took advanced hands-on engineering courses in which they learned to build their own robots. Dr. Orlando Hernandez and Dr. Seung-yun Kim ran the camp, passing their insight and expertise onto the kids.
The camp was divided into two sessions spanning two weeks. First, the students learned the basics with a comprehensive fundamentals session. After becoming familiar with the world of robotics, the students then moved on to an advanced session. During these classes the students were required to build robots that could solve a maze. To accomplish this task, the students had to learn and apply engineering concepts such as programming, computer vision, and wireless communication. In addition to the lectures with TCNJ faculty, the students also took trips to meet with industry professionals and discuss developing technologies. According to Dr. Hernandez, these field trips are a fantastic part of the program because they allow for kids to “see an industrial setting which many have never seen before. They see what new technologies they are working on and how professionals go about solving problems”. The students receive valuable insight that gives them a professional edge over their peers.
Although the camp was rigorous, there was no shortage of fun for the students and faculty. The group went on bonding trips to the bowling alley, had movie nights, and even took a visit to Six Flags: Great Adventure! The camp proved to be a fantastic way of bringing together high school students with similar interests, allowing them to forge bonds that can extend throughout their college and professional careers. According to Dr. Hernandez the “camaraderie fostered is a great part of the camp”. The program also created connections for the students with both professors and industry professionals.
Along with the TCNJ electrical and computer engineering department, the program was sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery.