Outreach Robotics Programs to the Community and K-12 Involvement
In the beginning of every fall term since 2010, Prof. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi takes the role to Mentor and Coach a First Robotics Competition (FRC) Program at "School Without Walls (SWW)", a local high school located in the Washington, DC area. Dr. Ben-Tzvi works very closely with Mr. Matt Ambrosio, a high school teacher who is liaising the FRC activities at SWW. The team includes ~20 high school students (grades 9 - 12) challenged to build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors, as well as raise funds, design a team "brand", and hone teamwork skills. It is as close to "real world" engineering that a high school student can get. As a volunteer professional mentor, Dr. Ben-Tzvi lends his time and the talents of his graduate and undergraduate students working his Robotics & Mechatronics Lab (RML), as well as other undergraduate students he recruited from SEAS to guide the team throughout the entire process (the entire academic year). The interactions involve the following major activities:
Provide high school students with access to GW Robotics and Mechatronics research lab and access to resources in GWU to help them and train them in robotics.
Arrange and conduct workshops and seminars for the high school students. The training sessions are provided at SWW and RML. The workshop and seminar series involve the following topics:
Design-related: CAD modeling using AutoDesk Inventor, and perform Simulations using 3D Studio Max.
Hardware-related: motors and drive train, hardware and wiring, and pneumatics.
Programming-related: programming options including LabVIEW, JAVA and C/C++ are discussed, with an examination of the pros and cons of each.
Based on the aforementioned interactions, high-school students get to: (i) learn from professional engineers; (ii) build and compete with a robot of their own design; (iii) learn and use sophisticated hardware and software; (iv) be exposed to design, project management, programming, teamwork, and strategic thinking.
Some sample activities are listed below:
In early November, Prof. Ben-Tzvi arranged and conducted a tour for the high school teachers and students from SWW. He gave them a tour in the GW Robotics & Mechatronics Lab and SEAS manufacturing facilities.
Dr. Ben-Tzvi and his doctoral students, Mr. Will Rone and Zhou Ma in a workshop at George Mason High-School in Falls Church