Monday, July 28, 2014

Robotics Club Takes on the Engineering World

The Liberty University Robotics Club (LURC), located within the School of Engineering and Computational Sciences, is giving its members the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a practical way.

Matthew Lewis, president of the Robotics Club, said that the club “exists to provide engineering and computational science students the opportunity to collaborate on projects consisting of software and electronics, and obviously the robotics platforms.”

The club was formed in the fall of 2011, and according to Lewis, it has adopted more complex platforms since then.  He said the club began with VEX, which is a program that has prepackaged robotics kits, but now the club uses a platform known as Arduino.

Lewis said the club actually prepared a cardboard maze, and by using the Arduino platform, they were able to program a robot that successfully navigated through the maze.

The Robotics Club is preparing to adopt a new platform that is even more efficient than Arduino.  The platform is called Myrio, and according to Lewis, it will enable the students to create much larger applications.

Dr. Kyung Bae, associate professor of electrical engineering, said the new Myrio platform will “allow students to focus more on the design and algorithm aspect rather than just writing software.”

The Robotics Club is also excited about the possibility of partnership.  Though there is no guarantee, Lewis said the club is discussing plans to partner with several engineering companies within the Lynchburg area.

In the future, Bae said that he would like to see the club visit high schools and reach out to students.  He believes it is important to show them all the possibilities engineering has to offer before they enter college.

The Robotics Club is currently not involved in any competitions, according to Lewis.  However, he believes this is a chance to step back and allow their members to work on programming fundamentals.

“We’re picking projects and goals that would prepare us for a competition,” Lewis said.  “And those goals and projects do have real-world meaning.”

But according to Lewis, competitions are not what drive the LURC.

“Our desire is to mentor the next generation of students that are coming through to prepare them, not just on how to understand what they’ve learned in the class, but how to apply it in real-world solutions,” Lewis said.

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