Copperas Cove High students preparing for robotics careers
Special to the Leader-Press
Copperas Cove High School student Justin Stevenson made some final adjustments before sending his ‘bot’ into the ring at the Vex Robotics Competition in Austin.
Stevenson’s team as well as fellow CCHS robotics team, Jaccoud’s Team, both advanced through the quarterfinals, placing fourteenth and fifteenth respectively.
“We may have felt our robots weren’t at the same level as some of our competitors, but we knew that they were completely our design instead of something they found online,” said Stevenson who works as the team’s coder.
Creating robots for competition is one of the many ways that Copperas Cove High School is preparing students to work in the robust robotics industry, which is expected to grow by 6.4 percent through 2026, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
Companies can save up to 20 percent in costs through automation. The robotics industry, currently worth $43.8 billion, continues to expand. CCHS Robotics teacher Tim Smith said his students’ success in the recent competition confirms their knowledge of the field and commitment to working in the industry.
“Because of COVID, we haven't been able to go to in-person competition for a couple of years. All of our kids are new to competition,” Smith said. “Given their lack of experience, I am very proud of how they did.”
The five major fields of robotics are operator interface, mobility or locomotion, manipulators and effectors, programming, and sensing and perception. Since robots are so varied and complex, they need a team of people to design, build and program them. As a result, many jobs are considered a part of the robotics industry.
Copperas Cove High School used a $10,000 Education Service Center Region 12 grant to fund 41 percent of the purchase of a Mechatronics Training System to teach students the practical and theoretical aspects of automation technology. Total cost of the machine was $24,342.
“The Mechatronics Training System replicates real industrial production processes and uses only industrial components,” said Career Technology Education Coordinator Sandra Perry. “Students are presented with a diverse range of modification, expansion and programming possibilities. The overall system consists of three separate systems that can be use in combination or as stand-alone stations, sparking student interest in scientific thinking.”
Perry said industrial production and projects are constantly evolving and industrial and technical solutions must advance to meet those needs.
“The Mechatronics Training System is sturdy, modular, flexible, and portable,” Perry said. “The system is not only used in the classroom but also to promote STEM in elementary and middle schools in the district through STEM Nights and STEM Summer Camp which will boost student enrollment in STEM on all campuses.”
Both CCISD junior high campuses are qualified as STEM campuses through the Texas Education Agency.