They, robot: A summer of STEM at hi-tech camp

Connections: Students can keep up their STEM development at a special robotics summer camp presented by the Composite Prototyping Center and SBU's Manufacturing & Technology Research Consortium.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A regional robotics effort will maintain momentum this summer for Long Island STEM students, with deep experiential learning opportunities in physical design, practical electronics and more.

Coming this July to the Composite Prototyping Center in Plainview is the SnappyXO Design Innovation and Robotics Camp, a joint effort of the CPC, Dix Hills-based Mechanismic Inc. and the Stony Brook University-based Manufacturing & Technology Resource Consortium, one of 10 statewide Empire State Development Corp.-designated Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers.

The two-week camp is rich with STEM content (for science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and cutting-edge design concepts, in this case focused on the construction of devices and task-able robots using open-source software and hardware and a novel robotics kit called SnappyXO, flagship product of computer-aided-manufacturing startup Mechanismic.

Mechanismic founder Anurag Purwar, a research associate professor in SBU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, said the SnappyXO “design-driven robotics education framework” was ideal as the camp’s technological centerpiece particularly because of its accompanying mobile app, the SBU-developed MotionGen.

Self-described as “a multi-touch app for kinematic design and simulation of planar four-bar linkages,” MotionGen, in essence, helps mobile devices control robots.

“This framework provides an innovative, modular, low-cost and open-hardware kit for structural prototyping of the robots,” Purwar told Innovate LI, adding MotionGen is the only current software “providing motion-synthesis capabilities for linkage-based robots.”

It’s a subject the PhD, who will be instructing at the Design Innovation and Robotics Camp, understands thoroughly: Not only does MotionGen “implement some of the algorithms that I have developed in my [National Science Foundation]-sponsored research,” but Purwar’s laboratory previously developed ArduinoBlue, a mobile app that uses low-energy Bluetooth connections to remotely control robotic motion.

In addition to MotionGen-based applications, summer campers will get up close and personal with microcontroller programming, electronic-circuit design, sensors, actuators and other advanced-robotics concepts necessary to construct walking, “two-wheel differential drive” and even more complex automatons.

Anurag Purwar: Mobile interests.

Participants receive take-home Mechatronics kits and their own SnappyXO Robot kits, and full scholarships are available for “qualified students,” according to the camp website (more below).

The robotics camp adds to a busy summer of 2018 for the MTRC, which recently announced an economic-development partnership with the Port Washington-based Long Island Food Council in support of regional food manufacturers.

Yacov Shamash, SBU’s vice president of economic development, said last week the alliance with the LIFC was an example of the MTRC’s expanding industrial scope.

With the summer camp, according to Purwar, the focus is on the development of a future workforce ready for multiple industries – one keen on robotics and related STEM disciplines, matching the camp to the primary mission of both the MTRC and the host CPC.

“The goals for this camp are to expose students to the design-innovation process, mechanisms, machines, practical electronics and microcontroller programming,” Purwar said, all “in the context of robot design.”

The SnappyXO Design Innovation and Robotics Camp is scheduled to run July 23 to Aug. 3 at the CPC. Camp applications will be accepted through June 29. A full scholarship will be awarded to 20 qualifying students who have completed fifth grade through 11th grade and met a host of other requirements; more info on the scholarship application available here.


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