The Tri-Rivers RAMTEC Vex Robotics League has earned a Honda North America grant for $25,000 to increase student interest in becoming future manufacturing and engineering technicians, according to Ritch Ramey, RAMTEC Coordinator
The grant, written by Ramey, will help Central Ohio schools expand their engineering technology awareness and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum. Since 2003 Ramey and area Industrial Technology and STEM instructors have successfully implemented more than $800,000 worth or STEM curriculum into area schools.
“We have been able to develop an engineering pipeline in the nine schools that feed the Tri-Rivers Career Vocational Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering program and the RAMTEC center through the national Project Leads the Way (PLTW) engineering program,” said Ramey. “We have found that because students are required to decide their career and educational plans in the 8th grade, we have not been getting them enough information on Mechatronics careers at the 4th through 8th grade levels. We have developed a program that uses robotics and automation equipment from the PLTW Engineering classes that will excite students to investigate careers in problemsolving, programming and building mechanisms. They can do this through fun after school extracurricular programs that will excite them as well as motivate them to choose engineering technician careers.”
According to Ramey, Vex Robotics is required of all students in the PLTW engineering programs in grades 3 through 12 the grade. “We will expand from our current middle school league of 57 teams from 9 schools to 90 teams from 18 regional schools. Our current league is from the Tri-Rivers Vocational Education Planning District. We will add 9 new or additional teams through our summer camps at Cardington Middle School, Grant Middle School, RAMTEC, Kenton Middle School, Wright State Lake St. Mary’s campus and the Ohio State Fair. Each educator will learn to program, build and coach students to dig deeper into mechatronics through the RAMTEC Vex Robotics leagues and to expand programming so that any student from Central and Western Ohio is able to participate in Vex Robotics events as well.”
“Our program will allow teachers to become coaches and facilitators in their new clubs while giving them the tools, robotics equipment and support to create successful clubs at their schools that would be self-supporting after the grant is successfully implemented,” explained Ramey. “In a model we used to help grow our current clubs in the RAMTEC Ohio Vex Robotics league with contests hosted locally and throughout Central Ohio. We also host the Ohio State Vex Robotics Championships, SME EF Marion Area Vex Toss Up Qualifier. We will have summer camps for students and two-day training programs for teachers and coaches. Our first two days of training for campers and teachers are similar in nature. Successful completers of our program and Vex Robotic trainers work with teams to enable them to solve simple and complex problems.”
Ramey said they use the Depco and RobotC Online Robotics Curriculum training program. The program leads students and educators through exploration of robotics and mechanics to build and program robots to navigate real and virtual mazes using C programing language and various sensors. Each educator is given a competition robotic kit for completing the course. This course is then used in their classrooms for PLTW projects that simulate manufacturing models, elevator programs and marble sorters as well as in Vex Robotic and National Robotics Challenge contests.
“The students are taken through the same training as the educators but then we add the building of advanced robots that are oriented toward the 2015 Vex Robotics contest,” said Ramey. “We then have them all compete at the Ohio State Fair in a demonstration contest on July 26. This contest prepares their team of 3 to 4 members to be able to problem solve their robots in a fun competitive atmosphere.”
Ramey said students are taught programming, gearing, torque, motors drives and various mechanical concepts through this event and camp. These concepts can then be applied to any engineering technician problem they may face in their careers. It also allows them to experience problem solving careers such as that of mechatronic technology. For more information on the RAMTEC Vex Robotics League, contact Ramey at 740-389-8539.