Kids, getting bored with summer vacation already? SolidWorks Robotics University (SRU) may be just the antidote.
A stimulating alternative to bumming around and playing video games, SRU is a free, online, independent study robotics academy for prospective, beginning, and experienced robotics enthusiasts. More than 1,400 middle school, high school, and college students pre-registered for the academy by mid-May, accepting early admission invitations online. Many are competitors in BattleBots, FIRST, the MATE International ROV Competition, Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest, RoboCup, or BattleCry@WPI robotics contests.
Sponsored entirely by SolidWorks Corporation, the SRU went live on June 1st and includes all the elements of a brick-and-mortar summer school – including a vibrant community – without the need to walk into a school building during summer vacation.
Interested students can request an invitation to the self-paced academy by sending an e-mail to SRURequest@solidworks.com.
There are structured lessons, tutorials, event calendars, photos, videos, forums, blogs, chat, personal pages, and instruction for using SolidWorks 3D CAD software for robot design. The university has donated 1,400 scholarship copies of SolidWorks 2007-2008 Student Edition software to registrants.
"Summer 'camp' can sharpen your game for serious competition that begins in the fall," said Ryan Koehler, a freshman mechanical engineering student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "Students around the world learn from one another, engage in the robotics community, and occasionally talk a little friendly smack."
Students who enroll in SRU can learn the secrets of robot design, assembly, configuration, and operation. They can write or read reviews on the best parts, kits, and designs. They can share stories, pictures, and multimedia documenting their triumphs and defeats – and, of course, make predictions about the upcoming competitive season.
"SolidWorks Robotics University is a refuge from an entirely unstructured summer vacation whether you're a robotics competitor, somebody who wants to learn SolidWorks, somebody who likes robotics, or somebody who thinks they might like robotics," said Marie Planchard, director of worldwide education markets for SolidWorks Corporation. "And you just might pick up some new math or science along the way."