There is something undeniably exciting about robots. Christians in particular have good reasons to be excited, as well as a unique perspective. Instead of seeing robots as a replacement for the human race, or supposing that the ultimate “upgrade” is electronics hardware and artificial intelligence instead of a new heart1 (Ezekiel 36:26), we believe that the human race is crowned with honor, though we may not know why (Psalm 8), and we seek to use technology and robotics to empower humans.
As one example of how Grove City students are doing that, Logan MacKenzie (Computer Engineering ’18) spent last summer at the Milwaukee School of Engineering developing a low-cost, fluid-powered robotic arm for wheelchairs.
Grove City is further equipping students to serve in the robotics field with a new minor. The following new courses are coming for the 2017-18 academic year:
- ROBO 301: Introduction to Robotics.
- ROBO 302: Mobile Robots.
- ENGR 301: Ethics in Engineering and Robotics.
Along with the new courses come new robots. Dr. Allison showed me a robotic arm Grove City purchased from Quanser last fall. The arm can be controlled via MATLAB for some interesting labs. For instance, how do you move joints simultaneously so that a hand moves in a straight path? Grove City is also looking to purchase a LR Mate robot soon.
This year, some senior mechanical engineers are building a dart-throwing robot for their senior design project. It uses a heavy-duty DC servo motor to throw the darts and is equipped with computer vision which can be used as feedback for the control system. Through their project, the seniors are also creating a hardware and software framework for future robots designed by underclassmen of both engineering disciplines.
Finally, Dr. Mohr, Mr. Jaillet, and Joel Bodine (Mechanical Engineering ’18) are designing a mobile robot for the ROBO 302 class. It should enable some fun labs and outdoor projects. A post with more information on the robot will follow.
Best of all (no pun intended), electrical engineering majors can graduate with a minor in robotics without any extra coursework since the robotics classes count toward requirements for the major!
1. Thanks to Dr. Dudt in biology for this helpful contrast. (Dr. Dudt teaches a section of Studies in Science, Faith, and Technology.)