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Area youth spend summer building robots

By Raul Garcia
Jr.

McAllen– Rio Grande Valley youth have been meeting in the McAllen Creative Incubator to build robots, learn engineering concepts and talk to industry professionals from Boeing, NASA, Space X and Microsoft.

“The activities are fun, challenging and hard,” said Aries Rawlings, a 13-year-old robotics enthusiast from Mission. “I was expecting to use Legos because that’s what we did in fifth grade.”

The week-long camp hosted by Reybotics, a local organization founded by former NASA Engineer and Brownsville native Heriberto Reynoso, was held at the McAllen Creative Incubator during the week of July 21.

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Reybotics Camp Scholars built laser-cut hexapod robots, which were manufactured in Mercedes, TX. They included a micro-controller designed to give the robot artificial intelligence. The six-legged machine crawled throughout the McAllen Creative Incubator using wireless handheld controls manipulated by the Scholars.

“This is the first cohort of the Reybotics Camp,” said Reynoso, Reybotics CEO. We are building two kinds of robots; one is a hexapod that is controllable via Bluetooth and the other is arm-like with a gripper mechanism capable of manipulating objects.

Inspiring students with robotics became a passion of Reynoso’s due to his lack of mentoring as a youth.

“We are really offering the big picture in [science, technology, engineering and math] and diving into each field to give Scholars an overview, said Reynoso, who previously worked with industry giants such as NASA and Google. “I want to spark an interest so young minds pursue these careers.”

Camp Scholars come from as far as Harlingen and Mission to attend the week-long event in which they were introduced to topics such as binary code, algorithms and concepts important to the engineering industry.

“Anything that can help my son we don’t think twice about it,” said Nick Cruz, a Harlingen parent whose 10-year-old son, Julian, attended the camp. “This was the perfect opportunity for him to have a hands-on experience.”

Cruz was surprised that his son was able to manipulate the same tools used by industry professionals to assemble the robots.

“It was pretty cool seeing this all come together and knowing we actually did something that is really-really cool,” said Robert Aiden Gump, 13-years-old from Mission.

Gump attended a robotics camp at Texas A&M where he focused on soldering circuit boards, but the Reybotics Camp places emphasis on building the frame of the robot as well as artificial intelligence and locomotion.

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