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PMSA Students Build Robotic Arms

PMSA students recently partnered in teams to build one of the most common types of existing robotic devices in the world, the mechanical arm.

Twenty-one PMSA students built five fully-functioning robot arms as a part of their engineering and design class. Robotic arms can be found in the manufacturing industry, the military, space exploration, transportation, and medical applications around the world.

Students say, that during this exercise they learned a lot about engineering and found that building a robot isn't as difficult as it seems.

"We learned that we can actually build a robot, and it's not that complicated," said PMSA Junior Ammie Egwu. "We learned a lot. Our mechanical arms can pick up things, drop things, and even move things."

"This project was cool," said Scotty Singh, a senior at PMSA. "We learned a lot about how motors and gears work together and how to connect wires to the circuit board. It was fun because we learned so much more about mechanical and electrical engineering"

Robotic arms use cables, motors, gears and pneumatic cylinders to move within a work envelope. The mechanical arm recreates many of the movements of the human arm, having not only side-to-side and up-and-down motion, but also a full 360-degree circular motion at the wrist, which humans do not have. The flexibility of the robot arm enables the robot to perform a variety of tasks accurately and efficiently with a great deal of precision. PMSA's robot arms are manipulated using a controller, and can be programmed to perform various tasks.

The class instructor, Tom Dix, says through this project students not only learned about mechanics, engineering, and design, but they also learned teamwork.

"During this exercise students had to work together," said Dix. "So, they really learned a lot about teamwork. I hope they take the lesson of the importance of teamwork and also confidence and true enthusiasm for science."

PMSA students built the robot in two days. Next, the mechanical and engineering class will begin to play with a new creation, Lego bots.

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