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NASA grant to bring robot-builders to campus


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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reports that a proposal written by a Sacramento State professor is one of 170 nationwide to be awarded a $2,500 Summer of Innovation mini-grant.

Mechanical Engineering Professor José Granda is working with the Golden Empire Council of the Boy Scouts of America to identify 24 area Scouts, ages 12 to 16, to be on campus July 22-25 for a robot-building mini-camp. The boys also will earn the Boy Scouts’ Robotics merit badge.

 “My plan is to have the boys learn engineering principles and robot mechanism using software such as the Working Model to build robots, and learn how to put ‘brains’ into the robots using Lego Mindstorms,” says Granda, a longtime NASA Faculty Fellow.

The Summer of Innovation’s goal is to challenge middle-school students with unique NASA-related STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities and interest them in careers in those fields. Grant proposals must meet any of the eight themes: aeronautics, life science, Mars exploration, rocketry, solar system adventures, mission to planet Earth, designing for space, and rocketry.

While at Sac State, Scouts will design, build, program and test their robots in the Mechanical Engineering lab. They will keep a notebook of their drawings and written descriptions, as professional engineers do. The camp will close with a robot competition.

NASA launched Summer of Innovation in 2010. This year’s grant recipients were chosen from more than 400 proposals made by nonprofit educational organizations, public and private schools, youth foundations and science centers in 41 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Only 13 grants went to California.

For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Office of Public Affairs at (916) 278-6156.

– Dixie Reid