Gunnery students learn to innovate
That reality makes its location in one of the oldest buildings on campus, the Delta Beta fraternity house from the late 1800s, quite a juxtaposition.
On the other hand, the original fraternity houses, in use from 1890-1922, were built by and were the responsibility of the students and that's the end goal for the students' projects, according to faculty member Elliott Fisher.
Once used by The Gunnery's longest-serving faculty member, Elizabeth Kempton, who taught mechanical drawing and art from 1903 to 1953, the L-shaped room has the studied disarray of creative collaboration: a small library, shared tools and a litter of electronic devices and paraphernalia.
A partially assembled, wooden, remote-controlled plane with no innards stands in a corner.
"That's the carrot for mastering this class," said Fisher.
"As they go through the steps -- first, learning to assemble and electrify the Legos robots, then experimenting with the gears and functions using the kits' programs and later programming the robot to solve a problem unspecified in the instructions -- the students are working toward taking on their very own "drone," and an old-fashioned wooden one at that," Fisher explained.
He has made it his mission to inspire the students to "let their minds go" and learn to resolve problems for themselves through trial and error, using programming and robotics.
The students work collaboratively and proceed at their own pace.
The only requirement for acceptance into the class is Computer Programming I.
"I love working on coding and solving problems," said Jackson Royce, Class of 2016.
"I want to go to engineering school eventually," Jackson said. "Right now I'm de-bugging the program which will allow me to direct this car around a track."
They discuss the objectives and assemble their materials.
Ashley Judson, Class of 2016, is working on a remote sensor on the back of a robot which causes it to turn around and hammer an object coming up behind it.
"I am very interested in making the robot do as I command," said Ashley.
The repurposed space has been a huge help to Fisher and his class.
"We needed a place where interested students could come and work on their projects during free blocks," he said. "The lab allows for that and give us the ability to leave our projects out, instead of packing them away.
"The benefit to the students is more time learning and creating in a space they can call their own," Fisher added.