Armstrong robotics students visit Camgian

Eighth-grader Dylan Folds shows off his team's prototype robot at Camgian Microsystems. Three robotics teams from Armstrong Middle School visited the firm's offices to present their ideas to Camgian software engineers. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)
Staff Writer

Some students at Armstrong Middle School received a hands on lesson from a local tech firm Thursday.

Students participating in the schools First Lego League Robotics program toured Camgian Microsystems located in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. The teams heard critiques and information on STEM fields from Camgian software engineers.

“We sat in on some presentations for Armstrong Middle School and advised them on their presentation, on their core values, on the robot, how they learned to work together and did some team building exercises,” said Camgian software engineer J.J. Kemp.

Kemp said while he had not participated in robotics or other STEM activities during his childhood, he became interested in engineering around the same age as the Armstrong students.

“I was in sixth or seventh grade, and I had a science teacher who let me tinker with computers, and it just kind of got me started that way,” Kemp said. The three teams who took the tour competed in the state Competition at Mississippi College Saturday. Their robots had to be designed to make transporting or purifying water easier for people in remote African villages.

“We got a tour of the lab, and we got to see their radar out side and learn what they do with it and how they set up everything,” said eighth–grader Dylan Folds. “We got some experience with some of the things that they had to help us out in the future.”

Folds said his team, called the Super Freaks, had been working together since the beginning if the school year to build its prototype and accompanying materials. “Pretty much we made a team and designed a robot,” Folds said. “We designed projects, different stuff like that.”

He said he and eighth-grader Titus Stewart had programmed the robot.

The group also created a video game surrounding its robot’s mission.

Folds said visiting Camgian had made him sure he wanted to become an engineer someday.

“It’s opened my mind up to what I’ve got to do to get to this point,” Folds said.

AMS robotics teacher Penny Rodrique gave some background on the Lego League, which has been offered at Armstrong since 2011. Each year students must construct a robot using Lego bricks and other components to solve a problem or set challenge.

“First Lego League was developed to promote engineering, to get children in fourth through eighth grade interested in engineering and seeing how developing ideas and actual products can lead to a career in engineering,” Rodrique said.