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James Madison students build robots

Throughout the school year, 49 of James Madison Preparatory High School students have been learning computer science, information technology and engineering. The students started the year by learning how to code and how to use code to operate a robot. Next they learned how to use Autodesk Inventor, software used for creating 3D digital prototypes. They applied that knowledge in building parts for their robot. The students were given jobs as a designer, a programmer or a builder. Programmers and builders were in the engineering lab with Principal Demetrius Rice while the designers were with Heather Johnson in the computer lab. Designers were in charge of using Autodesk Inventor to draw the parts on the robots in the program so that they could create an assembly drawing. They also had to draw a concept drawing of what their team’s robot looked like. A financial aspect was added to the course.The students were allotted a certain amount of finance points. The point could be used for upgrades on the robot and purchasing extra material for the 3D printer. Students were also fined for safety violations. Finance points could be earned by helping after school, building obstacle courses for the robot and cleaning up.

Tenth grader Alexis Bowen was the team leader for Little Einsteins. “It was challenging and frustrating at times but overall it gave me a new aspect on what I want to do with my life,” said Bowen about the course. She wants to be a design engineer. Tenth grader Adam Androski was the team leader for Team Optimus. He also assisted with the programming of the robot. He said that the course has opened up new directions for a career and it is difficult to choose. Ninth grader Jacob Adams was the lead programmer and driver of the robot for Team Optimus. He said the course really made him think more about the mechanical side of engineering. Adams also said that the project made him learn how to more efficiently collaborate with others. According to Principal Rice, James Madison will be expanding their technical career opportunities for the students. They plan to add graphic design, finance and journalism courses.

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1. Greene Publishing, Inc. Photo By Jessie R. Box, June 2, 2015 Jacob Adams (left) and Adam Androski (right) hold the robot their team built, Team Optimus.
2. Greene Publishing, Inc. Photo By Jessie R. Box, May 15, 2015 Jacob Adams controls the robot Team Optimus using a video game controller the team programmed.

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