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College of Engineering led robotics workshops at annual 4-H conference

In January, more than 120 high school students attended robotics workshops hosted by New Mexico State University's College of Engineering, in conjunction with Engineering New Mexico Resource Network, at the annual 4-H Leadership Conference.

Students attend a robotics workshop.
New Mexico State University engineering students led robotics workshops at the statewide annual 4-H Leadership Conference in Albuquerque. (NMSU photo)

Eight engineering student volunteers traveled to Albuquerque to conduct four workshop sessions comprised of about 35 students.

"This workshop opened my eyes to the possibility of my future," said one of the participants. Other feedback included that the programming was fun, the robots were awesome and it was an amazing workshop.

"The workshop was a great success," said Rick Richardson, NMSU interim department head of NMSU's Extension 4-H Youth Development.

NMSU students premade robots using the Vex Clawbot Kit. The high school students then had to program and operate the robots to develop programming and robotic skills. The objective of each robot was to move forward, pick up some candy, lift its claw and return to the student. Some participants programmed their robots to spin and dance.

A workshop of similar nature was held this past July. Both workshops were designed to promote the integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics into the 4-H curriculum.

"This is a new focus that has been developed between 4-H and the College of Engineering to expand opportunities for STEM engagement to youth across the state," said Patricia A. Sullivan, assistant dean of the College of Engineering.

Participants in the latest workshop could choose from a variety of different workshops at the conference. Following the conference, students said they would like to see longer robotics workshops in the future and would like to have competitions at the end.

"The 4-H kids were a pleasure. They were very polite and respectful. It was a great opportunity for our students at NMSU to be involved in outreach," said Ken Ruble, research engineer with the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Ruble was the adviser for this project.