In the Classroom: Robotics Engineering Students Problem Solve Through Innovation

At the end of Term 1, students enrolled in Lynn Connelly's Robotics Engineering course were making final adjustments to the problem-solving robots they had been building throughout the term. We visited during one of their last classes, and the students were eager to show off their hard work. 

Split into four teams, each group identified a unique problem and built a robot solution. 

Joe C. '24 and Davis B. '25 built "The Dump Truck," an irrigation robot consisting of an automated system for delivering water and plant food to individual plants in a hydroponic farm. They designed and programmed a monorail-like delivery system, as well as a user interface for the farmer to schedule delivery of food and water, and monitor or adjust what is delivered to individual plants based on each plant's growth and response to the environmental conditions. Joe and Davis describe their solution as a “scalable, space efficient, and fully autonomous, novel methodology with the added benefit of the seamless software integration with the user interface.”

Nate S. '23 and Albert G. '25 built "Ball to the Wall," a ball-collecting robot designed to sweep a space, like the gym, to retrieve volleyballs. The robot drives around like a Roomba vacuum, sensing walls and volleyballs to be collected, and uses intake motors to pull the balls in and up a conveyor and into a storage net that can hold up to seven balls. Through trial and error, they tried different shapes and materials for the ramp that pulls the balls up, and added flaps to the conveyor to help get the balls over the top into the net. 

Evan Y. '25 and Jacob C. '25 built "Project W.A.S.T.E (Waste Automated Systems for Trash and Environmental management)." Their robot is designed to clean up waste at Hopkins, either after a dance, lunch, or other event. Also similar to a Roomba, their robot drives around until it sees trash, then cardboard arms sweep it into a collection trough that raises up and dumps the trash into a large bin on its back, then moves on to find more. During the class we visited, Project WASTE was seen carrying Jacob across the room, an indicator it can carry plenty of debris. 

Bayan A. '25, Alana P. '24, and Claire R. '25 built "The Metal Marvel," a magnet-powered robot for collecting metal parts on the floor of a busy robotics lab. Equipped with a swinging metal arm and powerful electromagnets, the robot seeks out metal objects, collects them, and returns to its base. It can also perform its job fully autonomously. 

The students all shared stories of challenges and triumphs encountered along the way in taking their robot from concept to full functionality. Ms. Connelly expressed pride in the unique take each group took in solving their problem. Robotics Engineering is a 0.5 credit class offered during Term 1.
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Hopkins is a private middle school and high school for grades 7-12. Located on a campus overlooking New Haven, CT, the School takes pride in its intellectually curious students as well as its dedicated faculty and staff.