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Robotics Camp offers hands-on engineering experience

June 24, 2008

A full enrollment of 30 Arizona high school students and 10 high school teachers will participate in the 2008 Arizona State University Robotics Camp, a summer program designed to excite young students about science through hands-on applications of robotics engineering and programming.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, Intel Corporation and ASU's School of Computing and Informatics in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, camp activities will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, from June 23 through July 3.

The camp is part of the engineering school’s contribution to the national effort to interest more students in careers in science, engineering, technology and mathematics.

“We are working in cooperation with the National Science Foundation’s goal to ensure the country produces the top scientists and engineers needed to keep the United Stated a leader in technological innovation and technology development, ” says Yinong Chen, a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and leader of the Robotic Camp.

During the camp, Chen will use the intuitive Microsoft Robotics Studio software to engage students, while teaching the latest engineering design concepts and computing technologies. Students will also work with Lego Mindstorm NXT robots, using Lego building-block logic to demystify programming and robotics.

“Teaching Java or C++ [programming languages] in high school is irrelevant,” Chen explains. Rather, he aims to interest young people in engineering and science through an easy-to-use programming interface.

In the Robotics Camp, “we emphasize the logic rather than the syntax of the language. This program is more graphically oriented. “

From 1 to 5 p.m. on July 3, the last day of class, students will apply what they have learned in a Robotics Competition held at ASU’s Artisan Court in the Brickyard complex at Seventh Street and Mill Avenue. They will test the capabilities of robots they have designed, built and programmed by having their robots navigate through a maze, collect balls and complete other tasks to demonstrate motor skill and dexterity.

This year, Chen will be assisted in teaching the program by ASU graduate students Calvin Cheng, Jay Elston, and Larry Xu.

Chen has led ASU robotics teams to championship titles in the Las Vegas Ultimate Architecture Sumo-Robot Competition in 2005 and 2006. He is also organizer of April's Arizona Robotics Challenge 2008, which pitted ASU and traditional rival the University of Arizona.

The Robotics Camp will be offered again for a fourth year in the summer of 2009. Enrollment is currently capped at 30 students and 10 high school teachers, with a separate course offered to teachers.

For more information about the program, or camps and competitions from years past, visit the program website at

Matthew Evans
Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering