If you like to learn hands-on how to design, build, program and operate robots using raw materials and kits, NJIT Robotics Club is the organization to join on campus!
The club was first organized in 2010 and focuses on allowing students to gain real-world engineering experience by building their own robotics-related projects. After forming competitive teams, the organization takes part in various international competitions.
Students do not have to consider costs of materials, kits or other aspects of being able to contribute to the club; it provides the funding and tools necessary for students to create and work on projects of their choice. In addition, Robotics members can use NJIT’s Makerspace to make parts and pieces of their own!
Some of the club’s current projects include an Arduino-controlled, fully posable robot hand made of 3D-printed parts and a biped, a beginner-friendly robot that teaches and uses basic programming skills, electronics, computer-aided design and 3D printing.
The quad dog project focuses on having a fully functional quadruped using sensors so that humans don’t have to control it. There is also a 3D printed car that is planned to have basic user-controlled movement, but it may also have complex autonomous control using custom sensors.
The tennis ball bot is a small project in which leftover VEX parts are put together to create a robot with the capability to launch tennis balls at a controllable distance. The Rubik’s Cube solver project has electronic and mechanical components, 3D-printed parts, plywood box and grips.
Finally, VEX is a project aimed towards competing against other colleges across the world in a two-minute robotics game. This is a fast-paced environment, with several hours of work put in a week and a team of over thirty people.
Any member is always encouraged to bring up new project ideas. The club is able to provide funding and members who are interested in joining the project!
Senior computer science major Michael Tuma serves as the vice president of the club. He joined as soon as he started attending NJIT in September 2019.
“My expectations for the club were that it would be a place where I could make new friends who shared a passion for engineering, programming and related fields, and to be able to participate in fun and engaging events and projects,” he said. “The club surpassed these with flying colors; we have over 300 members, so I have been able to find many individuals that I now consider to be some of my closest friends.”
Tuma’s favorite part of the club is how much students can gain valuable knowledge that doesn’t just pertain to robotics. “Aside from the obvious learning opportunities like hands-on experience building and programming robots, members can also get involved with the administrative side of the club, which grants experience with leading medium to large groups of technical personnel, technical writing by writing procedures, documentation, engineering reports, etc. — and project management skills — such as budgeting, task breakdown, monitoring progress, among others,” he emphasized. “In addition, we also host a variety of professional development workshops and trainings that educate members on relevant technical and managerial skills.”
Aidan Dadiz is a first-year computer science student who joined NJIT Robotics Club a few weeks into the last fall semester. He has been slowly learning how to use computer-aided design software as well as Arduino. With all the collaboration between members, he said, “participating in the robotics club also taught me to work in teams and how to collaborate on big engineering projects.”
He also stressed how helpful all of the members are. “There are so many people in the club with all different kinds of background education and experience,” he mentioned. “If you have a question about anything related to projects or STEM in general, there’s always someone who can answer you.”
Dadiz recalled a time that he has appreciated to this day. “I spent about 14 hours in the club closet, building and taking note of the whole design process, all with help from many people that came and went all afternoon, evening and night.
“This went on until around 2 a.m., when we had finished everything I wanted to build that night. I even stayed a little longer to hang out with the couple of guys left in the room at the time. A truly spectacular use of my time that day; I have no regrets.”
Umair Khan, the director of mentorship and volunteering, is a first-year mechanical engineering major. In addition to the competitive nature of the club, he treasures how sociable the community is. “We have a quotes channel in the club’s Discord server, where we basically put all the funny stuff we hear people in the club say,” he mentioned. “I think there was a time when I quoted my friend three times within 15 minutes.”
First year computer science student Sai Vedagiri is the programming captain for the VEX Robotics team. When he first joined the organization, he was “surprised at the level of leadership in the club.”
There are Eboard members, directors, project managers, committees and more to help curate the organization. “When we started developing robots for the competition, I appreciated that the team had separate sub-teams and communicated very well to meet each other’s needs,” Vedagiri mentioned.
He also added that “the club provided me with many learning opportunities and access to technological pieces of equipment that aren’t always generally available to college students.”
Senior biomedical engineering major William Kuo serves as the project manager of the walking biped project. Within the club that’s centered around robotics, he still finds diversity in the interests of members.
“Everyone has such a strong shared passion in robotics. Talk to anyone; you can probably find some imaginative reason why they want to do robotics, and everyone’s answer would be different,” he explained. “For me, I wanted to build something related to my research, which is to design exoskeletons and make futuristic sci-fi machines.”
Adira Samaroo, a third-year computer science major and the director of membership and attendance, spoke about how her entry level for robotics was relatively low, but the support offered by members, along with their knowledge and skills, has helped her assimilate into the group really well.
After applying for the leadership position she currently has, she said, “My confidence has soared beyond my shy demeanor. Being a voice to reach out to members and help them feel welcome has been great.”
One of Tuma’s most prized memories includes the VEX competitions the team attended in the 2019-2020 season. “We would bring eight members to each one, and we would all drive over to wherever the competition was in one of the NJIT vans; after staying in a hotel overnight, we would head over to the competition. There would be teams from all over the country.
“We would compete in the qualifying rounds, and we would always make it to the elimination rounds. We didn’t always win, but we would always at least get to finals and win some awards. It was amazingly fun in the way that only a real-world, stressful and challenging situation can be. After each competition, we would always get a nice dinner together at some restaurant near where the competition was,” he shared. “The experience is like no other.”
NJIT Robotics Club is excited to welcome any new members; if you are interested in becoming a part of this organization, feel free to join its Discord server at https://njit.gg/robotics!