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Weekly open house highlights a dynamic week of robotics training and technology at South Texas College

For the first time ever, STC partners with FIRST RGV during the camp, enhancing the student learning experience

A weekly open house hosted by the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at South Texas College is the culminating event held by STC’s Robotics and Automation Summer Camp.

The event is held every Friday once the weekly camp is finished, and consists of live demonstrations, competitions, and activities for visiting families.

The robotics camps aim to introduce students ages eight to 17 to various aspects of automation and real-life robotics technology.

“The students have an opportunity to demonstrate and present a week’s worth of projects, as well as the robots they built and programmed, said Carlos Margo, Associate Dean in the Office of Industry Training and Economic Development at South Texas College.

“The whole point is to give the families an opportunity to come and check out STC. We invite them to come to our Technology Campus and let them see what it is we have to offer. That’s my way of actually promoting our campus and our robotics labs,” Margo said. “I can tell you that the majority of the members of our community have no idea that we have the capacity to do robotics and automation training here at STC. So in addition to students coming here every day for a week, we invite the families to come and do this type of open house activities, presentations, demonstrations and just have a good time.”

This year’s robotics camp also marks the first time working with FIRST RGV. For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is a non-profit organization devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for fields in science, technology, engineering, and math STEM.

STC now participates in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), formerly FIRST Vex Challenge (FVC), which is a mid-level robotics competition created for those of an intermediate skill level.

“We have different niches of the market, but they have helped us in this partnership,” Margo said. “We did one of their components, the FTC component, which we introduced this summer for the first time, and they helped us on what to purchase as far as the robotics kits, and with the curriculum.”

Working with FIRST now gives students an opportunity to form their own robotics teams for competitive events, Margo said.

“This is now an opportunity for our students here at the camps to continue in teams with FIRST RGV,” he said. “We have the option to compete. We are not necessarily in any teams per say, but we can definitely continue…if our students want to go back to FIRST RGV on their own, then they can.”

Robotics instructors say the camp is an intensive five day experience that covers the basics of robot design, programming and building. The camp is meant to challenge the students while simultaneously offering a program they can fully immerse themselves in and enjoy.

“In my experience, the secret to teaching these students on a really complex subject has been the connection through the activities I have prepared for them,” said Nelson Carrasquero, a robotics instructor at the camp. “It’s also treating them like adults. When you treat them like that, they become empowered. So at the beginning, you have to hold their hands and guide them a bit but then as they camp goes on you have to find a point where you let go. That’s what happens. This all happens in the space of a week. By our fourth day, the kids are already programming on their own.”

Summer robotics camps are taking place all summer long. The cost is $175 per student. Children will receive breakfast, lunch, a camp t-shirt as well as a certificate of completion. To register, visit southtexascollege.edu/go/robotics or call 872-6197. STC’s Technology Campus is located at the intersection of Ware Road and Military Highway.

For a complete schedule of all camps, please visit https://www.southtexascollege.edu/kidcamps/