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      Robotics Engineering

      Robotics Engineering at Widener

      students building robots

      Robotics Engineering Camp

      Students participate in the School of Engineering’s first robotics camp.

      The School of Engineering has announced a new undergraduate majorRobotics Engineering, an emerging discipline that crosses over a wide variety of industries and is on the cusp of impacting every aspect of the way we work and live. It is the first undergraduate robotics engineering major in the region.

      "Our robotics engineering degree will prepare students for a career on the cutting edge of technology in one of the most innovative regions in the U.S.," Dr. Fred Akl, dean of the School of Engineering, said. "Widener is among a few pioneering institutions offering this major nationwide."

      The overarching goal of robotics engineers is to create systems that can pursue missions that are dangerous or not suitable for humans, or perform tasks with speed and accuracy that are otherwise unachievable.

      Widener University is well positioned to introduce this new major, as the engineering faculty have teamed up with leaders from the VEX robotics community and hosted an Engineering Robotics Camp. The camp was an opportunity for high school students to learn about robotics systems and to develop their science, technology, engineering, and math skills, as well as learn more about the VEX Robotics competition.

      Each year VEX Robotics holds competitions for middle and high school students with a new challenge. Students are tasked with designing and building robots that solve a problem using a tactical approach. Students often participate in the challenge as part of a robotics club or technology education course.

      The School of Engineering will host a VEX Robotics Competition on November 10, which will be a regional tournament in Pennsylvania.

      High school and middle school teachers agree that there is a need for a focus on robotics and technology education in higher education. "It's an immensely growing field," Akl said. "Job growth for robotics engineers is anticipated to rise rapidly to meet the demand to invent, research, design, manufacture, sell, and service robotics systems and components. Our program will help fill the increasing need for robotics engineers."

      Tricia Flynn, a computer science teacher from Spring-Ford High School, agreed. "We are seeing more and more interest from students in pursuing robotics long term; it's become more than a hobby, so it's great that Widener is offering it as a major."

      Like Flynn, Pete Ruckelshaus, a computer applications teacher at Great Valley Middle School, sees a need for the major. "Our country needs to focus more on technology education," he said. "We need to encourage more creative thinking in the classroom, and the robotics discipline allows students to think critically and problem solve in ways they don't always get a chance to."

      Both Flynn and Ruckelshaus assisted with the camp at Widener. As mentors of the VEX Robotics Competition, they only offer guidance to their students. "The students build the machines on their own," Ruckelshaus said. "They have total control to design what they want. The VEX competition gives them the foundation to problem solve."

      According to Karl Nelson, a research engineer at Widener. "The camp will be an integral part of the robotics program moving forward, as it allows the School of Engineering to introduce the major to high school students."

      Students can begin enrolling in the robotics engineering program for fall 2018.

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