Building robots gives Pine-Richland students taste of future
By Rachel Farkas
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Students at Pine-Richland High School are learning about real-world technologies by building robots.
Evan Clark, applied technology and engineering teacher, is guiding students in making robots, formally known as automated guided vehicles, in his robotics manufacturing class.
Students design and build a body for their robots, then write a program to tell the robot what to do.
The goal is for the robots to follow a course taped on the floor using sensors on the undercarriage of the vehicle.
The robots are programmed to stop at intersections in the tape course for a few seconds and then proceed, simulating the automatic braking systems many new vehicles come equipped with, Clark said.
Each robot vehicle has a metal frame, an array of sensors, wires, ports and a battery pack, but that's where the similarities end. Clark said he showed his students example vehicles, but otherwise they are free to design a robot that they think would work best.
Juniors Alex Buss, Tony Benaglio and Sean Carroll created a compact square body with tank treads for their robot.
“I wanted to use a bot with tank tracks because we had a lot of trouble using tank tracks in robotics last year, but this year it's working well,” Buss said.
Seniors Matthew Mehelic and Mike Mahich chose to use a design featuring two wheels in the front and four in the back “to give it more grip,” Mahich said.
“The hardest part is programming it,” Mahich said. “Building it was the fun part.”
The project is graded by a rubric that examines each part of the project, including the design, programming and functionality.
Clark said they will be graded heavily on the programming aspect of it.
Students have about two weeks to work on and complete the project.
Juniors Michael Coholich and Austin Hayes built a robot with a long rectangular body and four skateboard wheels. The pair said they made the body design simple so they could focus on “making the program really good.”
“This project was really fun,” Hayes said. “I really do enjoy this.”
In order to take the robotics manufacturing class, students must be sophomore, junior or senior and have taken the pre-requisite robotics class.
The AGV project combines software engineering and mechanical engineering.
“If they decide to get into different kinds of programming or engineering, this is the technology they need to know,” Clark said. “And it's just important to know how the technology works because it's everywhere in the real world today.”
For example, sensors such as the ones used on the students' robots are also found on automatic garage doors or gates, Clark said.
While some students took the class for fun, others are using their education as a stepping-stone to a future career.
“I like working with my hands and with technology,” Benaglio said. “And I wanted more information on how to do this for a career.”
Carroll, a member of the AFJROTC at Pine-Richland, said the robotics and engineering background he's gained from this course will help him with his intended career in the Air Force. He'd like to work with unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.
“I may not be into building and programming them, but I want to pilot and control them,” he said.
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- North Allegheny graduate inspired to help raise funds
- Fox Chapel, neighboring communities hosting platform tennis national championships
- Pine-Richland students recognized for art, writing abilities
- ‘Cool’ visitor waddles to Ross Elementary
- Mad Dash to raise money for St. Paul’s youth mission work
- Pine-Richland students wrap up Shakespeare unit with festival
- Hampton to honor Pirates manager, township resident Hurdle
- Giving back part of mission at Oxford Athletic Club
- Shaler North Hills Library jewelry swap to help cover cost for Women of Faith conference
- Hampton plans to take some gas station land for park-and-ride lot
- Shaler Area Middle School gears up for musical