16 Jun Keen programmers put robot through its paces 

Nayland College’s new Robotics Club is thriving since it was set up earlier this year. The club meets twice a week to share enthusiasm and experiment with programming the club’s robot. 

Year 12 student Cameron Mayes has been a key player in getting the club off the ground. After initially surveying student interest in the project, he approached principal Daniel Wilson for sponsorship.

Cameron was motivated to start the club because of the increasing dominance of the field of robotics, and the possibilities it offers for getting people into programming. “Technology is taking over and it’s very important for the future,” he said. “Very soon employers are going to start looking for people who have these skills.”

The outcome of Cameron’s efforts was the arrival of Arnold, a programmable mBot whose name was inspired by the film The Terminator. Digital Technology teacher Eddie Patillo recalls the excitement when the robot first arrived. “The day it came and they opened it was like Christmas,” he said.

The robot gives students the opportunity to program algorithms and see the result directly in the robot’s actions. Though Arnold does not always behave, he is capable of following all kinds of programmed instructions such as following lines, manoeuvring to avoid obstacles, and detecting colour with his colour sensor.

Eddie Patillo has been impressed by the way students lead the club themselves and fairly distribute time for each member to have a turn using the robot. “There’s a palpable “learning buzz” in the air during their meetings and it’s just nice to be around that,” he said.

By Sera King