THINC SkillsUSA students wow Rotary Club members with robotics

Published 4:52 pm Monday, April 23, 2018

When the Rotary Club of LaGrange members pulled into the parking lot of Highland Country Club for their weekly meeting last month, a portion of the lot was cordoned off by six THINC College & Career Academy students tinkering with robots. Their special treat was to introduce the Rotarians to the world of mechatronics through robots. 

During the meeting, Dr. Kathy Carlisle, THINC’s chief executive officer, was flanked by Joe Sumner, mechatronics instructor and six students in red coats who participated — and placed — in state competitions over the past month. Placements were as follows:

  • Gold – Robotics and Automation Technology, Eli Thrailkill and Charlie Walker
  • Gold – Mechatronics, Grace Ingram and Savanna Scott
  • Gold – Humanoid Robotics, Jery Chadwich and Eli Daugherty
  • Silver – Additive Manufacturing, James Figiel and Jeffrey Stephens

“THINC has provided me an opportunity to explore careers in STEM,” Grace Ingram said during the program. “There are not many females in mechatronics, but it has given myself and my SkillsUSA partner, Savanna Scott, an opportunity to be fifth in the nation in mechatronics, and we are proud of that. Maybe other females will see there are good opportunities here and decide to become a part of the profession.”

After the meeting, the students invited Rotarians to a showcase of robots and drones. The robots were built and programmed by the students who use them in class and various competitions. One robot, weighing 150 pounds, was used in the FIRST Robotics competition to complete a maneuver called the triple hang. This was the first time any team attempted and completed this maneuver at the competition. They will be taking the robot to compete in the national competition in April. 

In addition, members were able to operate some of the robots with the assistance of the students, and the most recognizable programmable THINC robot, Mr. Tinker, greeted the members and performed Tai Chi moves that were programmed into its hard drive.