When I was in my junior year of high school, my school offered a Robotics class. As someone who had already had a taste of Physics (the other class being offered) and wanted something new, I eagerly took this class. In hindsight, I had no idea how much this class would teach me about computers and programming, and how many doors it would open for me!

  • SketchUp

One of the most enjoyable parts of the class was learning 3D designing in a software called SketchUp. SketchUp came with helpful tutorials, and we spent many classes practicing how to use it by building various things such as two-story houses using simple shapes. If you’ve never played around with a program like this, I would highly recommend it! Even if you aren’t interested in what we were using it for (designing robots that we could 3D print), it can have a multitude of uses, such as modeling a project and seeing what it should look like. It’s fun to play around with and the possibilities are nearly endless. 

  • Raspberry Pi

While Raspberry Pi’s are more commonly known and used, they can seem intimidating. The appearance of the object gives off a very “tech-y” vibe, and it can seem like a lot. However, with help in the classroom, we quickly learned that this machine was simple but could do complex tasks! We didn’t have to do much to set it up for every class: a couple USB connections to a desktop would bring us back to where we left off, and then we would open up the coding window and use Python to program commands for our robots.

  • Python

Once we would open up Raspberry Pi, we would use it for programming our robots. This was perhaps the most challenging part of creating the robots. For many of us, it was our first time working on a coding project, and errors would frustrate us to no end. However, reflecting on this process makes me realize that we shouldn’t have jumped straight into the heart of a project without too much background. While we had some experience with Javascript, it was a completely different language from Python and the experience wasn’t real-world enough for the project we had undertaken. I plan on taking a more extensive coding class in the fall, but I’ll be sure to self-teach myself some basics using Codeacademy or another website.

From my experience in this class, I discovered my passion for Artificial Intelligence. While we used our robots to compete in recreational competitions and at a science fair, the experience made me realize how varied the use of robots could be. They could open many doors to advancements in accessibility and convenience.

I think that a big takeaway from this would be to dive headfirst in new experiences that seem interesting to you. In my case, it was taking a leap into a class that had never been offered before. I think that even if you don’t want to create a robot or have a particular interest in robotics, these individual components I’ve listed above can each be experimented with individually. Who knows, you might end up finding a career path!