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NASA Robotics Team brings new techniques for learning, building robots

Molly Hoffer
Joseph Kusmer, president of the NASA Robotics team

The NASA Robotics Team has decided to implement new learning methods for members to learn how to build a robot this semester.

Joseph Kusmer, president of the NASA Robotics Team and a junior mechatronics engineering technology major, said he wants to help return the team to its former glory when it made it to NASA’s Robotic Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2018.

The changes are newly implemented, aiming at helping introduce team members to the basis of robotics and helping them learn about the design process itself. 

“Last semester, when I first became president of the team after the previous president graduated, none of us knew what we were doing,” he said. “It was me, a couple of sophomores and a few freshmen. Over the summer, I did a lot of planning on how we could help return the team to its previous state when competing in the NASA competition.”

NASA has a yearly robotics competition in May at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The competition is hosted in person and streamed online for audiences to watch. The Kent State team has competed in several of NASA’s competitions in the past. 

The first handful of meetings are about teaching the team the core aspects of robotics by having lessons and lecturing on introductory computer-aided design, circuit wiring, manufacturing methods and other processes that go into building a robot, Kusmer said.

“We’ve had two informational meetings so far and then spent a couple of meetings talking about computer-aided design and 3D printing,” he said. “Right now, my vice president is talking about circuit wiring, and next week, we will show more slideshows on different types of manufacturing. After that, we’ll most likely have some guest speakers come and talk to everyone.”

Kusmer, who became president of the team in the spring, wants everyone on the team to be on the same page and learn together about the foundations of building a robot for competition because there are currently only three upper-level students. The rest of the team consists mainly of freshman and sophomore students who have not had internships or taken robotics-related classes.

“Some of the team went to a STEM high school like me and have a vague sense of building and manufacturing robotics, but the vast majority didn’t have that luxury and don’t know what they are doing quite yet,” he said. “That’s why we decided the best way to strengthen the team was to teach them the foundations of robotics and build up from there.” 

He made note that the team doesn’t solely consist of engineering majors. Other members can bring different strengths to the team depending on their primary major or area of expertise.

“Although many team members don’t have much experience with robotics yet, they each have different skill sets and different things they bring to the team. Anyone can join,” Kusmer said. “My primary goal this year is to help the team learn as much as possible about robotics by teaching and building on their current skill sets.”

Molly Hoffer is a digital tech. You can contact her at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Molly Hoffer, Campus Editor
Molly is a Campus Editor and a senior majoring in journalism and creative writing. She has served as a digital tech and a general assignment reporter in prior semesters. She is passionate about writing and enjoys covering stories about current events and things happening around the community. Contact her at [email protected]

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