On any given afternoon, if you were to take a peek into the TI Innovation Lab at the University of Central Florida (UCF), you would find a unique pairing of high school students collaborating with college students in a peer-to-peer setting.

You would see a common ground of innovation, with no distinction between age, just a hunger to learn more and push boundaries.

Student collaboration

The high school students come from local Florida robotics teams, the Mechromancers and the Super 7, who are making names for themselves in the world of robotics.

With advanced knowledge in the mechanical and electrical design needs to build a competition robot, the high school students have become an ingrained resource to the UCF students who utilize the lab for their design projects. In addition to swapping ideas, the two groups of students show each other how to operate the complex technology found in the lab, such as laser cutters and 3-D printers.

A part of UCF’s Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute, the TI Innovation Lab was established to provide engineering student teams, now numbering over 100, a place to bring ideas to life, while honing their technical leadership and collaboration skills.

By collaborating with this STEM outreach program in the lab, UCF seniors were inspired to use a similar set of parts and imitated the motor and motor controller concepts into their capstone project.

The tech behind the bot

To build the Mechromancers robot, the  team specifically used the TI Lab’s laser cutter and 3-D printer to cut and print custom-designed parts. The team also used TI’s MSP430F5529 microcontroller LaunchPad™ development kit with the Sensor Hub BoosterPack™ plug-in module to provide automatic data on the robot, such as rotation and acceleration.

The team can use this data to track the movements of the robot remotely during practice runs to debug and make real-time improvements to the robot’s design.

Check out the build of the Mechromancers robot:

Why It Matters

Other than designing award-winning robots that punched both teams tickets to the FIRST Robotics World Championship, these high school students have gained extensive knowledge surrounding the technology behind robotics.

This collaboration between the TI Innovation Lab, UCF students and the robotics mentors like TI Innovation Lab director Don Harper, boosts younger students’ confidence and experience solving complex engineering challenges, making them more likely to pursue engineering careers that will improve and change the world around us.

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