Learning is fun for Western Nevada College Jump Start students | NevadaAppeal.com

Learning is fun for Western Nevada College Jump Start students

Western Nevada College
Luis Rowell brings his flashlight-guided robot to the finish of a maze during the Western Nevada College Robot Olympics, part of the school's Jump Start College program. From left are, Linda Whitehill, WNC community education coordinator, Emily Howarth, WNC professor of electronics and industrial technology and student Aaron Fischer.
Tim Dunn / Nevada Photo Source |

Western Nevada College Jump Start students celebrated the conclusion of a fall semester of Advanced Manufacturing training by holding an Olympics of sorts on Thursday morning.

The Career and Technical Education students, who represent Carson and Dayton high schools, put their newfound industrial technology knowledge into a series of Olympic-type games.

“This is an end-of-semester project demonstrating coding and building of small robots, and presentation skills for students studying advanced manufacturing,” said WNC Professor of Electronics and Industrial Technology Emily Howarth. “This class and lab work has reinforced for students the importance of initiative and drive on the job, showing them that they can learn and do a variety of technical work tasks.”

Students programmed their Parallex Boe-Bots (Board of Education robots) to play songs as they participated in three events and determined medalists.

The robots used light sensors to navigate a maze as quickly as possible.

“The students dubbed it KukAmazing in honor of our industrial robot partners, KUKA Robotics,” Howarth said.

With winter almost here, a curling event seemed appropriate. Robots independently pushed a ball toward a scoring ring.

Of course, the Olympics wasn’t complete without a relay race. The students’ robots utilized sensors in a tag-team format covering a short distance.

Team USA took home gold in two of the three events, and students interacted with guests, answering their questions about the significance and importance of their projects.

“The Parallax Boe-Bot is a simple platform that allows me to introduce basic concepts of electronic components and circuits, the mechanics of motors and gears, and control from sensors, all while using the tool of computer programming to direct the behaviors of all of those systems,” Howarth said.

WNC’s commitment to educating students to work in the region’s expanding manufacturing and technology sectors has spawned a Manufacturing Technician Certification program. Individuals can take three classes (online and in-class options) in one semester to become certified to work in an above entry-level-position in Advanced Manufacturing. For more information about Manufacturing Technician training, contact Howarth at Emily.howarth@wnc.edu or at 775-445-3000.

Students and families who are interested in WNC’s CTE Jump Start College for high school students should talk with their local high school or WNC’s CTE division.