An anonymous Giving Week donation to RSU’s AeroCats drone team has funded the development of the university’s first robotics team.
Rogers State University having its own robotics team has long been a goal of Technology and Justice Studies Department Head and AeroCats advisor Curtis Sparling.
“A couple of years ago, we had some robotics equipment donated to the university and I have a handful of UAS (unmanned aircraft system) students with whom I’ve been working with on a special project – a drone delivery system,” Sparling said. “We’re hoping to be the first university in the state to have an intercampus drone delivery system.”
Sparling instructed the students to make the proposed system completely automated, from launch to recovery. The group undertook fabricating several designs and implementing their own technological prowess and curiosity into the project, incorporating some of the robotics equipment previously donated to the college.
“The project sparked the students’ interest in robotics and before I knew it, they were looking at different robotics competitions throughout the nation, even though we technically didn’t have a ‘robotics team’ at that point,” he continued.
To fund a robotics team, Sparling submitted the project proposal to be highlighted during the university’s annual Giving Week initiative, running Sept. 24-30. The project was funded as of the outset of Giving Week.
“Due to an extremely generous donation of $6,500 to my AeroCats STEM Training Team community, we’ll be fielding a university level robotics team. This will be the first time in the university’s history that we’ve had a robotics team,” he said.
The robotics team, which will be called “The RoboClaws” in a nod to the “Fear the Claw” motto for the RSU Hillcats, will consist of RSU students My Le, Nghi Nyguen and Kai Nguyen, all three from Vietnam.
The team has already secured storage and built workstations, which have been filled with the necessary tools and equipment, and the purchase of a 12’ x 12’ competition stage (or field) has been approved. In the short-term, this stage will be used to test student-built robots and in the long-term, it will be used to host robotics demonstrations on campus.
“The students were very excited to learn the robotics team was funded, but we’re still in the very early stages at this point,” Sparling said. “There are still many components needed for the project and we have much to learn before and including where the competitions will be, but these learners have an unquenchable thirst to learn all they can, so I know they’re eager to get started.”
Once established, the robotics team will incorporate its knowledge into nearby K-12 schools as part of the university’s outreach efforts and it will compete against R1 (research) classification schools, comparable to OU and OSU in size.
“We are extremely excited to be adding robotics to our STEM ‘toolbox’,” Sparling said, “and we look forward to seeing all that the team will accomplish in the coming year.”
As this is the RSU Foundation’s 50th anniversary, this year’s Giving Week theme is “50 for 50 Giving Week,” with a total fundraising goal set at $50,000. This total includes eight selected projects, all of which benefit RSU students and learning opportunities at the university. Giving Week 2023 continues through Saturday, Sept. 30. All donations are tax-deductible.
For more information about Giving week and to view the programs and initiatives being highlighted, visit www.rsu.edu/givingweek.