The rainy Wednesday that marked the start of Thanksgiving break had an interesting event taking place in the campus center lobby. The few students that went to classes that day probably saw it: little robots zooming around the lobby floor. They were witnessing the newly formed Robotic Games, courtesy of the rebooted Robotics Club.
A handful of the Robotics club members, including Patrick Pait, the club president, arrived at the Campus Center despite the rain to host their event. The club put up a maze, assembled their robots, and took out their TV; all this while curious passerby began to assemble. The Robotics Club’s work was incredible. They had set up two activities with working robots for interested players. Participants could choose to control one of two remote controlled robots. One robot had a claw that could “play basketball” by picking up a ball and placing it in a hoop. The other robot was a functioning rover with a wireless camera; the player had to guide the rover through the maze while looking through the camera on the television screen.
Their event was huge success, accomplishing the intended goal of publicizing the robotics club. Some busy students were not aware that there was a robotics club, and the group wanted to reach out to them. “I didn’t know that this was going to happen here, but it’s cool,” said Alex V, having missed the posters strewn about campus. This event was certainly a boon for their visibility. After seeing the bots, several onlookers approached members asking to join the club, with Pait giving club information to all those interested. “I think that this is great!” said Pait.
The NJIT Robotics Club is an organization of students that provides interesting activities and fun events to the general NJIT populace. Their mission statement is, as stated on their website, “to put NJIT on the map as a top college involved with robotics. We will do this by increasing awareness of the impact robotics will have on the near future of technology.” All of this statement held true, and can be seen via a visit to their offices to see their members at work.
The Robotics Club’s office is room 2314, located on the second floor of GITC. Finding the club room is a trek at first; you must navigate through the computer labs and take a turn into the office, where the sheer amount of hardware in the room signals that you have reached your destination. In the room are robotics equipment and miscellaneous tools, as well as a number of club members at any given time. The room is a result of hours of hard work, with finished bots proudly displayed on the side, with current projects being the center of attention on the tables.
The club is comprised of a dedicated collection of students who share a common interest in robotics. “We have people in the club from all different majors, anyone can participate in our club. Robotics is great in the sense that it uses a diverse set of skills such as building, designing or programming . We encourage a wide range of students in our club to collaborate with each other towards a common goal.” said Pait. Indeed, there is great a variety of people in the club whose majors aren’t necessarily involved with mechanical engineering. Everyone has a role that they can choose, and can assist in any project that is going on. Before being considered a full-fledged member, however, people must finish a registration process where they sign up for the project tracking system.
The robotics club manages all of their projects through a project management database called Mavenlink where members of the club can communicate with each other and update the progress of their projects in question. This system also acts as an introduction of sorts to the club. The club hosts a tutorial project which new members have to register for in order to be educated about club policies and procedures. Once they finish this tutorial an officer of the club checks to make sure they have completed everything correctly, and afterwards they are promoted to member status. Once promoted to a member not only are they officially apart of the club but they can access a members page right on the website where they can choose how they want to get involved. There are currently a handful of projects being worked on by a number of people, and this system ensures that there is always something to do when a member signs in for the day.
One of the visions that Pait has for the club include a new activity for the next Robotic Games: a robot battle. He explained, “The robots would simplistically fight, being controlled by two players”. This would be an amazing spectacle to see in the future games, and a great feat for the club to accomplish and display. With several highly talented students working on this project, we could see this in time for the next games.
The event itself was very, very fun. There were a lot of people present, which is amazing considering that it was the day before Thanksgiving break, and they were all talking positively about the club. The students who had the best times received certificates signifying their victories. The rest of the people who attended felt good about having played, with some asking about the club. The answer? Come to a meeting!
NJIT Robotics Club’s website can be found at http://njitrobotics.com/.
Photo credits to Pavan Rana