Student Chapter Event Highlight- University of North Texas Future Innovators Workshop Spring 2021
Future Innovators Workshop Spring 2021
University of North Texas Robotics and Automation Society
The University of North Texas Robotics and Automation Society student chapter recently held the first Future Innovator’s Workshop. This event, held in conjunction with the IEEE North Tech-SAS Summit hosted by the IEEE UNT Student Branch, is a STEM outreach initiative targeting K-12 students. During this completely free event, students who registered received free electronics kits provided by the UNT RAS chapter to teach them about the wide world of electricity, circuits, and microcontrollers through hands-on projects. All of our 85 slots for students filled up within a week of opening registration with over 20 additional students signing up to be notified of future offerings.
The workshop is divided into three experience levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The workshops were originally intended to be held during the first days of the North Tech-SAS Summit on Saturday, February 20th and Sunday, February 21st. However, due to the major winter storm that affected many of our registrants in Texas, we added four additional meeting times on Saturday, March 20th and March 27th. In total, we held four workshops for beginners, four for intermediates, and one for advanced students. All of the workshops were held using Google Meets and included an introduction video from UNT Chancellor Lesa Roe, an introduction to the parts for the session, and a walkthrough of the selected project.
In the beginner workshop, we focused on analog circuitry, building a simple adjustable LED circuit to introduce students to the basic concepts of electricity and how to build a basic circuit on a breadboard. In the intermediate workshop, we built a basic buzzer circuit controlled by a pushbutton. Then, we introduced the Arduino and its programming ecosystem through the Arduino IDE to teach students how to interface an Arduino with a circuit by creating a programmable buzzer. In the advanced workshop, we taught students how to create an Etch-a-Sketch device using the Arduino, two potentiometers, a pushbutton, and a 1.8” TFT display.
Each of these three projects are included in our free online FIW handbook located on the FIW home page of the IEEE UNT Student Branch website at https://edu.ieee. org/us-unt/fiw/. The handbook is designed so that students can continue to learn and explore well after the conclusion of the workshop. This document also contains some basic information to introduce students to circuits, electricity, and programming. The projects in the handbook are divided into difficulty levels measured from one to five stars. Each project provides a list of parts required, steps to build the circuit, a circuit diagram using Fritzing, and the code for the Arduino if necessary.
The kit provided to the students contained 33 unique components for a total of 117 parts. This kit is designed to give students the opportunity to build their own creative circuits and explore the possibilities of both circuits and the Arduino. The funds to build this kit and put together the workshop were generously provided through the RAS Initiative Grant as well as through our local Fort Worth IEEE section.