HeadStart – a taste of Robotics…

Inspiring young people to study computing, robotics and electronics.

At the end of July a group of teenagers from schools and colleges across Sussex learnt how to build and program an automated robot during a HeadStart-Widening Participation programme on campus.

The thirty young people took part in the HeadStart program, which offers year 12 students an experience of university-style teaching and learning. The aim of the Headstart programme is to encourage students interested in STEM subjects and science to apply for technology-based degree courses at the University of Sussex.

This year the HeadStart programme includes academic sessions, personal development days and an exciting week of learning what Engineering is about, led by staff in the School of Engineering and Informatics.

Students had the opportunity to learn basic programming, mechanical design and electronics skills, working with embedded systems and sensors to program a robot to sort objects in a way similar to a production line in manufacturing. The workshop close with a robot competition – a very exciting time for students to show off what that have achieved.

Shreya Jain, aged 16, is a student at King Edwards Grammar School in Chelmsford. She said: “Programming the robot was really good and making them work was a challenge. I like robotics and technology.”

Charlie Meus, 17, from Wilkinson school said: “I liked so much building my own robot I worked with sensors and electronics, it was amazing how this works”

The academic tutors guiding the sessions were PhD students: Chris Johnson, Auday Al-Mayyahi, Julio Costa and Mark Puttock-Brown, and research fellow Dr Elizabeth Rendon-Morales.

Chris Johnson said, “Students performed excellent well and I was really impressed that they were solving problems which are actually similar to our undergraduate students are solving”

Dr. Rendon-Morales said “This workshop gives the opportunity to the younger generation to start developing skills in electronics, mechanical design and programming whilst also allowing them to solve real-world challenges. Students really enjoyed the session”.

(photos by Vik Winter)

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