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Students to learn about robotics and renewable energy

Students to learn about robotics, renewable energy and smart devices
January 19, 2014
High school students interested in a career in robotics, renewable energy, nanotechnology and the next generation of smart devices will be fascinated by the University of Canterbury’s E-Week camp from January 20 to 24.
The one-week camp provides a special opportunity for Year 12 and 13 students to get hands-on laboratory experience, visit local companies, drive an electric go-cart, build and programme their own robot and build a solar cell. 
The activities, provided by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, are designed to open students' eyes to the teaching and research that occurs at the University of Canterbury (UC).
Professor Phil Bones says students can experiment on solar cell construction in the nanotechnology laboratory, which is part of the McDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.
``We will show students the rudiments of programming a microcomputer to control a robot. This relates well to research by Dr Chris Hann who is helping with the Canterbury rebuild. 
``His team's Rover robot, designed to inspect for damage to piles under buildings, is being used by a government-owned company responsible for settling claims from the earthquakes. Southern Response/Arrow International has been using the UC Rover robot since September.
``The students will spend a day during the week looking at aspects of electric power engineering.  
``The department has a strong link to New Zealand's electric power industry in the form of the Electric Power Engineering Centre (EPECentre), which is a sponsor of E-Week, and has won a large research funding grant to improve and provide a stronger national green grid.
``The result of the research will be an efficient, cost-effective and robust electricity network meeting the ongoing and changing power supply needs of New Zealanders. The research is led by Dr Allan Miller of the UC EPECentre.
``Students will also get to see the activities of local companies that employ electrical and computer engineering graduates to perform a wide range of engineering tasks.  The companies this year are Tait Communications, Enatel, Transpower and Bluewater Systems,’’ Professor Bones says.


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