School of Engineering and Informatics workshops inspire young people to study computing, robotics and electronics…

A group of teenagers from schools and colleges across Sussex and Kent have been learning how to build and program a robot during a Widening Participation programme on campus.

The ten young people have been taking part in the Sussex Study Experience, which offers year 12 students an experience of university-style teaching and learning.

The programme includes academic sessions, personal development days and a celebratory graduation day.

This year there were eight subjects to choose from, including Computer Science, Electronics & Robotics, which was led by staff in the School of Engineering and Informatics.

Students had the opportunity to learn basic programming and electronics skills, working with embedded systems and sensors to program a robot to perform specific tasks.

Amy Lee, aged 16, is a student at Bexley Grammar School in Kent. She said: “Programming the robot was really fun and making them work was a challenge. I like robotics and technology.”

Seventeen-year-old Alex Parry, from Heathfield Community School in East Sussex, added: “I really liked building my own robot while programing sensors from scratch; it was amazing how this works.”

The academic sessions were led by PhD student Chris Johnson and research fellow Dr Elizabeth Rendon-Morales.

Chris said: “Students performed extremely well and I was really impressed that they were tackling problems which are actually similar to ones our undergraduate students are solving.”

Dr Rendon-Morales added: “The Sussex Study Experience gives the students a fantastic opportunity to see how research in electronics, computer science and robotics is done at the University and visit our leading-edge sensor and robotics labs.

“As a female engineer, I am very pleased that 50% of our students were girls, who performed extremely well. I personally would like to contribute to inspiring girls to choose engineering and computing.”

On Friday (18 March) the 10 students presented their final projects at the last of the academic sessions.

And, if they choose to come to Sussex, the students will benefit from the new £10 million state-of-the-art Computing, Robotics, Electronics and Mechatronics Centre (CREaM), which is being created to teach students the latest innovations in engineering and robotics.

Sam Dunnett, Event Manager in the University’s Widening Participation team, said: “By the end of the programme all of our students on the Sussex Study Experience have gained in confidence, made new friends from across the south of England, and developed richer subject knowledge.

“Above all, though, they have had answers to their questions about university life and have an improved ability to make an informed choice about their future.”

(story via University of Sussex)

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