Friday, October 22, 2021

New major joins curriculum: robotics

Plattsburgh State students now have the option to join the new robotics major in time for the 2018 fall semester.

A press release on the school’s website states there are only 19 robotics programs in the nation, making PSUC’s the only one in the SUNY system so far.

“We started the robotics minor in collaboration with the physics department two or three years ago,” said Delbert Hart, PSUC professor of computer science. “That was going well, and they had started offering Intro to Robotics, and that led us into looking to create a robotics major.”

They stketched out the program’s feasibility over the last fall semester, then put together and submitted a proposal.

In the proposal, the group suggested nine new classes to be required for the major and utilized some already in the curriculum.

Most robotics classes are math and science intensive and require a lot of pre-requisites in programming and physics before a student can take them.

“Once they get through the programming and physics, they can take the Intro to Robotics course and then an embedded systems course and [then a class] where they work on a team,” Hart said. “For their senior project, they propose their own robotics project and then they work on it and that should be a lot of fun.”

With the robotics major so fresh to campus, Hart doesn’t believe many students will join the major in the fall.

“The major was only officially approved at the end of February, so we missed this admission cycle,” Hart said. “There aren’t many students signed up right now, but there is a huge amount of interest in robotics at the high school, so this potentially could have many students in the future.”

Because the major requires such rigorous pre-requisite classes in physics and programming, it’s also difficult for students to switch into if they didn’t come specifically for it, though Hart said at least one computer science student is already planning to enroll in the new program.

Less than a mile from campus, Plattsburgh Senior High School offers two classes in robotics to students.

One of the classes offered at PHS works with the same equipment the college’s Intro to Robotics class uses, Arduino, which allows students to learn and experiment with coding and engineering.

The addition of the robotics major on campus could attract more local graduates interested in robotics who might have gone elsewhere, possibly across the country for their desired program.

“We may not have many joining the program this upcoming semester, but this program has the potential to attract many new students to Plattsburgh,” Hart said.

Email Abby Talcott at news@cardinalpointsonline.com

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