Young Engineers Take LEGO ‘Bots For a Swim

Posted on July 30, 2009  Comments (0)

Young Engineers Take LEGO ‘Bots For a Swim

The Stevens Institute of Technology hosts this competition annually on its campus here, gathering students earlier this month from more than 40 middle and high schools to pit their designs against one another in kiddie pools on the banks of the Hudson River. In dozens of such competitions around the world, young people build, program and drive vehicles made of Legos and other more rugged materials. These events are a bid to interest a new generation in careers in engineering and robotics, and they are becoming more sophisticated.

Upping the ante this year, Build IT introduced Lego’s NXT programmable control box. At least one student on each team learned to program the NXT. The programmer determined which of the vehicle’s propellers would spin and in which direction when the driver moved the levers.

Holding up the device, Abigail Symons from Lincoln Park Middle School demonstrated her work. “Those are the controls and those are the touch sensors and this is a rotation sensor,” she said. She had never used such technology before she joined the team.

“I thought I was going to be bad at it because I wasn’t sure if the right motor would go with the right propeller, but in the end I got it so, it was good,” she said.

The Build IT program is funded by a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation with further funding by the Motorola Foundation. It is one facet in the NSF’s scheme to entice students into future careers in engineering and other sciences.

Related: Lunacy – FIRST Robotics Challenge 2009Building minds by building robotsLa Vida RobotRobot Fish

Leave a Reply