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Blinn College Engineering Program hosts inaugural robotics demonstration

Blinn engineering students showcase robots in simulated obstacle course

December 8, 2017

Flashing lights and dense fog filled the Blinn College-Bryan Campus Student Center Wednesday as Blinn College sophomore Zachary Hill added the final touches to his group’s remote-controlled robot, S.A.M.

Hill and his 70 classmates spent months preparing to demonstrate their knowledge and programming skills in embedded systems and robotics at the Blinn Engineering Program’s inaugural robotics demonstration. Fifteen teams of introductory engineering students were tasked with designing and constructing robots to successfully maneuver a simulated obstacle course.

“After several days of construction and working through issues, my classmates and I were excited to put our robot to the test,” Hill said. “Each member played an important role in this project, and we finally got the opportunity to put our hard work on display.”

 Caleb Yarbrough and Darrian Hunter

Blinn College engineering students Darrian Hunter (left) and Caleb Yarbrough watch as their robot, DSTR, maneuvers the obstacle course during the Blinn Engineering Program’s inaugural robotics demonstration.

Designed to replicate the site of a hazardous chemical spill, the obstacle course contained various features, including fog machines, ice trays, flashing lights, and pressurized buttons. Students operated their robots via remote control from an outside location, collecting data and maneuvering through obstacles viewed only through a live video feed.

“The idea behind the simulation was that the environment was not safe for humans,” Engineering Instructor Jeremy Coffelt said. “Students needed to collect environmental data and isolate and resolve the specific issue before returning to safety – a real-world scenario many of them could face in the engineering profession.”

Wednesday’s robotics demonstration was designed specifically for students enrolled in ENGR 1201: Introduction to Engineering, the first engineering class students take when pursuing Blinn’s 60-credit hour Associate of Science degree in engineering. ENGR 1201 gives students an introduction to the engineering profession with an emphasis on technical communication and team-based engineering design.

“Throughout the semester, we have explored the many different disciplines in engineering and gained a basic knowledge of programming,” engineering student Alexandra Welsh said. “It has been fascinating to apply the concepts we learned in class to the construction of our robots for this demonstration.”

Zachary Hill

Blinn College sophomore Zachary Hill adds the final touches to his group’s remote-controlled robot, S.A.M. Hill and his classmates designed and constructed a robot to maneuver an obstacle course during the Blinn Engineering Program’s inaugural robotics demonstration.

The robot construction and demonstration were greatly aided by the guidance and assistance of Texas A&M University professors and industry experts Dr. Joseph Morgan and Matt Leonard. The pair were critical in the development and production of the Digital Systems Teaching and Research (DSTR) robots that were used throughout the semester.

Blinn’s Associate of Science degree in engineering prepares students to pursue any type of engineering career, including specialties such as aerospace, biomedical, civil, electrical, mechanical, petroleum, and more. Blinn engineering students gain project-based experience while exploring engineering theory and building a strong background in chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Students who complete their associate degree are prepared to transfer to the state’s leading four-year engineering programs to continue their studies.

Registration for the Spring 2018 semester is available through Monday, Jan. 15. College officials encourage early registration for convenient scheduling and placement in high-demand courses. Registration for Blinn’s Winter Minimester, which runs Dec. 15-22 and Jan. 3-10, is available through Thursday, Dec. 14.

For enrollment or financial aid information, visit

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