Students at BGSU robotics camp engineer summer fun


BG Independent News

Games of cornhole are on the summer fun agenda of many young people.

Earlier this month, a dozen teenagers from Northwest were looking at ways to make the game more exciting using robotics.

The students, one from as far away as Antwerp, attended robotics camp for commuters at Bowling Green State University.

Mohammad Mayyas works with students.

It’s the second year BGSU has provided a robotics camp. Last year, one session was held at the Toledo Museum of Art targeting students from the Toledo Public Schools. That program continues, but teacher Mohammad Mayyas, an associate professor of engineering technologies, said he wanted to offer one on campus for other students.

They decided to have the camp for students on campus “to help our program to grow,” he said.

“We want to expose future students, prospective students, to what we can offer,” Mayyas said. “The university is paying attention to robotics and advanced manufacturing.” Northwest Ohio needs a workforce trained in robotics and automaton, and the state recognizes this. That’s helped BGSU land grants to develop its program.

“We have very good equipment,” he said. “It excites them to see the actual equipment used in industry.”

Employing open source software, the students learned to integrate hardware with software to make sensors so cornhole is more interactive.

That can mean keeping score, or having lights or sounds go off in response to scoring tosses or misses. Maybe it’ll play a song or show a hand waving.

Ekumjyot Kaur, from Perrysburg, said she was enjoying the camp. “It’s really in-depth. You wouldn’t think you’d go to robotics camp and learn so much,” she said. “Here they focus on the on software as opposed to the moving parts.”

This was her first real exposure to BGSU, she said, and for other interested in engineering she’d recommend the camp.

Sisters Chloe and Mia Wegener, from the Anthony Wayne district, were working with Kaur. The work consisting of tossing bean bag toward a cornhole board trying to activate a light. The light should be going on when the beanbag goes into the hole, but the vibration of a miss also caused the light to go on.

Chloe Wegener, a rising senior, is no stranger to campus. She’s taken College Credit Plus courses on campus. She’s planning on majoring in engineering. Her sister, who will be a sophomore, said she’s also interested in the field and has participated in Girls Who Code program.

Claire Heilman, from Columbus Grove, said she had an interest in engineering and felt the camp would be “a good way to find out if I like it.”

She was pleased with her experience. It started off with the basics, she said, learning the inputs and outputs, then moving on to doing their own coding.

Alex Lehman, from Antwerp, said her father encouraged her to enroll because “I’m interested in programming and robotics.” And the experience has been “awesome,” she said.

Though only going into her freshman year, she’s already considering attending BGSU.

Mayyas said he wasn’t surprised by the number of young women, five out of 12, in the class. “Robotics as a specialization is much more exciting for both genders. They find a way to apply their creativity.”

Mayas said the campers are learning soft skills including creativity and team work as well as the technical skills they will need.

And as Kaur said, robotics will “play a major role in the future.”