July 09, 2004

Robotics campers to get hands-on experiences

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Twenty-six junior high and high school students will learn the nuances and inner workings of robotics during two upcoming robotics camps at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The camps run 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 12-15 and July 26-29.

The goal is to expose youths to technology they might not see in school, and "showing them how interesting robotics can be," said camp director Martin A. Hebel, an assistant professor in electronic systems technologies in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

"Teaching electronics here ties into our program," he said.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover camp activities. Students will demonstrate their robots July 15 and July 29. For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Martin Hebel at 618/203-9555.

Students will learn the basic principles of robotics, including basic electronics, sensors, motor control, programming and control techniques. The students and their robots will give demonstrations and compete on the last afternoon of each camp.

The camps feature a great deal of hands-on work, including building tabletop robots. Students will install various sensors, including light sensors and infrared detectors, and test different programs. Students will also study and look at larger robotics already in the University's program.

This is the second year for the program. Ten students attended last year's inaugural four-day camp. Growing interest in the camp and the positive experiences of last year's inaugural program prompted the decision to offer two separate sessions. Hebel hopes to offer a camp next year for high school students.

This year's students come from Carbondale, Carterville, Chicago, Eldorado, Herrin, Makanda, Marion, Murphysboro, Pinckneyville, White Heath, and Bardwell, Ky.

Jared T. Lambert of White Heath, a junior at Monticello High School, won a scholarship to attend the camp.

Assisting Hebel in running the camp this year is Don Bless, a teacher at Cobden High School, Michael D. Fisher, senior at SIUC in electronic systems technologies, and Brandon Byars, a Carbondale Community High School student who participated in last year's camp.

CASA's electronic systems technologies program, in cooperation with SIUC's Division of Continuing Education, sponsors the camps. Parallax Inc., of Rocklin, Ca., is a contributing business.

Enhancing outreach and continuing education efforts are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.