Area middle, high schoolers gain exposure to robotics at Southeastern camp

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
by: Rene Abadie

1)Robotics multicopter2)Robotic camp

1) TEST FLIGHT -- Mitchell Bosman of Mandeville, second from right, a senior at Fontainebleau High School in Mandeville, performs a test flight of a multicopter at Southeastern Louisiana University's RoboFit Summer Camp, which drew more than 50 participants from the Baton Rouge and northshore areas. Observing his performance are Sebastian van Delden, right, head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology, and other campers.

2) ROBOTIC ROCK DROP – Mason Delahoussaye of Madisonville prepares to catch a rock being carried by a Louisiana State Police bomb squad robot at Southeastern's Louisiana University's RoboFit Summer Camp held on campus last week. Members of the bomb squad put the robot through various exercises to demonstrate to the campers its capabilities and flexibility. More than 50 area middle and high school students from throughout the region participated in the camp.

HAMMOND – Nearly 50 area middle and high school students from the northshore region received first-hand exposure and hands-on experience in robotics and other computer-related technologies while getting a bit of physical activity by participating in Southeastern Louisiana University's RoboFit Summer Camp last week (July 21-25)

Sponsored by the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology with financial support from university business partner Dow Chemical, the camp was operated in two sections, one for a 12-14 age group and the other for ages 15 and above.

Included among the activities were building robots to perform a variety of functions, such as cleaning up trash and navigating corridors; observation of robotic technologies in action, including demonstrations by the Louisiana State Police of one of their bomb squad robots; operating various helicopter drones and – for the younger campers – an afternoon of swimming and physical activity.

"These camps are an important way of getting kids interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers from an early age, while stressing the importance in math in these disciplines," said Sebastian van Delden, head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology. "Unfortunately, many youngsters don't understand the importance of math in any engineering or computer science field, and once they enter college, it is difficult to build the pre-requisite math foundation they need to be successful."

He said the RoboFit Camp featured a health and fitness component for the younger team with the assistance of faculty from the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies to stress the importance of balance in one's life.

Camp participant Michael Kraemar, a student at the Silliman Institute in Clinton, said he had been looking forward to the camp.

"My interests are in engineering and robotics, and I wanted to get a little experience and learn more about robotics," he said. "The camp was a perfect fit for me."

Several Southeastern students assisted as camp counselors during the week and benefitted themselves from the experience.

Computer science senior Myriah Duraso of Sulphur said she was able to gain experience guiding the students to a solution and helping them with technical questions. The best part of the camp, she noted, was how interested and excited the students were and how effectively they completed the challenges they were presented.

"The primary reason for my interest, however, was to share my love for computer science and technology, she said. "It's important that children are exposed to new technologies at a young age. I'm very passionate about my field of study, and I hope the younger generation will become more involved."

The camp concluded with a tour of Intralox, a Laitram-owned conveyor belt manufacturing facility in Hammond and an awards presentation. Overall winner was 13-year-old Vivian Saterlee of Madisonville, who was awarded the top prize, a new multicopter.


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