Published on 05 Nov 2017. Written by Vasanth Vidyakar
Long gone are the days where setting up robotics club & training students on latest robotics technologies were limited to only IITs. Now, a lot of colleges and schools are starting to take initiatives to establish & run the robotics club within their campus to compete and stay ahead of their peers. Through such clubs, they are providing their students with great opportunities to be innovative and to develop projects that will push them to the next level in their careers.
Setting up robotics club at low cost is possible now due to these reasons:
While the robotics club largely benefits the student community and supports innovation happening within the campus, setting up a club is not easy.
Proper care should be taken while setting up the club, as the motive here is not to just start a club but to run it successfully for the years to come. Anyone can invest money, buy components or give contract to organizations to setup a robotics club. That is the easy part and anyone with money can buy robots and setup a board calling it Robotics Club.
The real challenge is to make it in a way students use it and build lots of projects!
A best robotics club is not the one with lot of robots and electronic components arranged neatly with posters all around the room. The best robotics club is the one which is very active, where students go every day and build a number of innovative projects.
Best robotics clubs are measured based on:
1. Identify the right team to run the club:
It is preferred that the robotics club should be a student run initiative with faculty mentors guiding them. One of the main advantages of having actual students as the members running the club is that it make other students comfortable in joining the club. And also student led initiatives tend to be more active & successful than the conventional ways.
A highly enthusiastic team is required to run the robotics club successfully in college. The members of the team should be self-motivated with the zeal to help fellow students and spread innovation within the campus. They can split the roles based on their strengths from marketing to operations etc.
2. Find a good place to run the club:
Having a common place for the club will encourage the students to form a community and create an engaging environment. The common place sets the tone for the club where the meetings can be scheduled, tech-talks can be given and more importantly students can learn to build innovative robotics projects utilizing their free time/ after college hours.
A laboratory or a common hall that is there in the college would be a very good choice. As they provide enough space for the students to come in and build projects and also they can store the materials there without much safety concerns.
3. Build student communities:
The robotics club success can be measured by the size of the student community who are actively engaging in it. Lot of students means lot of innovation happening at the college and it serves as a motivation for other students to join the club too.
But getting the initial set of students will be a tough task. As there will be initial hesitation among the students regard to the feasibility of the club and its functions. But when student leaders start to engage with the students explaining about the benefits and demonstrate the model, it would help students in becoming a part of it.
4. Provide right support to students through great content, resources and mentors:
It is very difficult for student leaders and local faculty to provide technical knowledge to students due to limitations like time and the amount of knowledge they possess themselves. This will make the clubs very inactive as students don’t find enough motivation to continue actively in the club.
It is very important to partner with right organizations who can provide great content and engage students very well. These organizations should be able to provide access to a lot of content and ideas. (Workshops are not very good for this as all students make same model as part of workshop). Instead, students should be able to build different types of projects and build 50-60 different projects every semester in small teams.
So you should ensure you partner with the right organization who can provide you with great content and resources and who have the experience of running such clubs successfully. Do a thorough reference cheques and see how their model works before signing.
5. Come up with an engaging schedule:
One of the biggest challenges in running the club is to make students engage in activities throughout the year. This is little tricky as students will be having exams, labs etc. So the schedule should be formed in a way that the students will be less disturbed during the exams.
Semester wise schedule is preferable so that students will build lot of projects by the time they graduate. One way to keep the students focussed on the club is to have a competition at end of each semester. Competition with exciting awards is a good motivation for students to come forward and engage in the robotics club actively.
6. Partner with the right kind of company
A good partner will help you achieve all the objectives mentioned above. They will be able to set up club with right resources, provide online video based lessons for students to learn, provide video based resources for atleast 50 different types of projects students can do using the kits, develop a good schedule, conduct competitions, provide rewards etc.
If you find a right partner, it is highly possible that you will achieve you objective of building a successful robotics club in your college. If you find a wrong partner, you will end up spending a lot of money but you will not see students get any benefit out of it.
Skyfi Labs has developed great solutions that make your robotics club a super success. Skyfi Labs is an initiative of alumni from IIT Kanpur and has helped more than 100,000 students from 17+ countries learn and build Robots. They worked with more than 500 colleges, universities and schools and come with great experience to provide you the right support you need while setting up the Robotics club.
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