On the second floor of the Center for Computing and Information Science, Robotics Club executive board members Omar Obidat, Laury Rodríguez, Jean-Jacques N’Dri and Jesse Parron prepared their workshop presentation, greeted participating members as they entered and set up equipment. President Obidat took his place at the center of the room in front of his PowerPoint presentation and instructed participants.
The executive board members of the Robotics Club prepared their very first hands-on workshop of the semester after being inaugurated in fall 2021. The workshop focused on assembling a breadboard using an Arduino, an open hardware development board that can be used to design and build devices.
Participating members connected a sensor and LED light to an Arduino to have it light up depending on how close it is to an object. Before the LED lights could light up, members had to code on their laptops and change values depending on where they placed their jumper wires which were connected to the Arduino board.
Participating members kept up with Obidat with the assistance of Secretary N’deri and Vice President Parron. Members, like junior computer science major Samantha Zuza, enjoy the club due to how hands-on the activities and members are.
“I joined out of pure curiosity,” Zuza said. “I’m in computer science and I wanted to branch out and do different things, and this is a really hands-on club.”
The workshops are open to all majors, including those who do not have any familiarity working with robotics. Executive board members walk around in between each step to make sure everyone has an understanding of the project at hand. Lana Saadeddin, a junior data science major, said this allows everyone to feel welcomed and comfortable while there.
“It’s really fun,” Saadeddin said. “Even if you don’t know what to do, they’ll just help you out, so it’s very welcoming.”
This was just the first of many workshops the Robotics Club will host alongside the club advisor, Dr. Weitian Wang, who is an assistant professor of computer science. Executive board members already have the next few workshops planned out ahead of time.
“We have a set agenda when the semester starts, and if any members feel like they want to focus on something, we will add a workshop or bring someone in to explain it,” Obidat said.
Wang and the executive board members will also be organizing a series of workshop activities for local schools and K-12 students in the Montclair, New Jersey area.
“We have a coordinator from a Montclair middle school here today and hope to have a workshop there in March at his middle school,” Wang said.
The club will also be conducting a semester-long project which will be open to members of the club. Members can team up or work independently to come up with a proposal to present to the executive board members.
Once a project has been approved, the club will purchase the equipment needed to perform the project and assign an executive board member for any assistance needed. After the projects are completed at the end of the semester, executive board members and Wang will have a showcase to display them to students of the university.
The Robotics Club leadership is creating the semester-long project in hopes to inspire more members to be innovative and make their own project, according to Obidat.
“We want students to be able to start their own projects because on a resume it looks amazing,” Obidat said. “We’re funded by the Student Government Association (SGA) and given a budget of $2,000. If we can spend it on students’ learning, it would mean we spent it effectively.”