The Bolles Bugle

The Bolles Bugle

The Bolles Bugle

Robotics on the rise: New rooms, robots, and resources


As Bolles’ robotics program continues to grow, the school is making changes to accommodate for the increase in student interest. 


The biggest change in the program has been the creation of the Robotics Lab, located in Colmery Skills Center. Prior to the creation of the lab, all robotics electives were held in the Photography room, while the First Tech Challenge (FTC), practiced in the small IT Conference Room in Bolles Hall.  


Chief Technology Officer and FTC coach, Paul Sollee, explained how more space in the Robotics Lab “allows for more people to participate, but it also allows for more technology to be used so that they can start to move away from a predefined type of robotic building system to a more individualized or creative way to actually build it and build its components.”


Hailey Christy

In the IT Conference Room, the FTC team could only use half of their 12×12 foot playing field, which is an area where they practice for meets. In the Robotics Lab, they can fit the entire playing field and still have plenty of extra space to build and refine their work. 


The extra space that the lab provides has allowed for more people to join the FTC team. “We had over 30 kids that wanted to do the FTC program last year,” Sollee said. “We essentially just outgrew the space.” 


Not only has the Robotics Lab allowed for more people to join, but it has also acted as a location to house all of the makerspace related equipment that Bolles has, such as 3D printers. The lab has eight 3D printers that students in the program have access to and a CNC carving tool, which is a machine used for cutting and carving materials such as wood. Mr. Sollee had built the CNC machine previously, but moving to the Robotics Lab “was really the first time we’ve been able to actually use it,” Sollee said. 


With easy access to equipment like this, robotics students are able to make more advanced robots with ease. For example, students have used the 3D printers to create disks which they use to simulate the disks used in actual FTC competitions. 


Hailey Christy

Following suit with the FTC team, robotics electives have also begun their shift into more advanced, customizable robots. Prior to this year, the classes used Lego Mindstorm EV3 robots for all of their projects. These robots were very elementary and were coded using oversimplified programs. However, the classes recently shifted to using REV robots. The REV robots, which are also used by the FTC team, are coded using Python, which is much more applicable for pursuing a career in robotics. 


Robotics will only continue to grow, which is why Sollee has big plans for the future. “When the Center for Innovation opens up, we will move over there, and we will essentially double the space that we have now.”


The new building will provide space for both a robotics room and makerspace. The makerspace will house creative equipment such as 3D printers, while the robotics room will store the robots, playing field, and other robotics-specific items. 

About the Contributor
Hailey Christy
Hailey Christy, Contributing Writer
Hailey Christy is a senior and first-year staffer who is bringing her video production skills into Bugle. Hailey also enjoys playing soccer and hanging out with her siblings in her free time. In college, she hopes to pursue a career in the industrial field to use her skills of 3D modeling.