Merrimack College Robotics Camp Inspires Engineering Exploration

Since joining the Merrimack College community in 2015, Associate Professor Rickey Caldwell has worked to provide robotics and engineering learning opportunities to underrepresented and under-resourced high school students.
Merrimack College Robotics Camp.

For the first time since he joined the Merrimack College community in 2015, Associate Professor Rickey Caldwell brought his long-running summer robotics camp to campus, thanks in part to a grant from Boston Scientific.

Caldwell, a mechanical engineer, has run summer camps for more than decade to help close learning gaps for underrepresented and under-resourced students while they are off from school.

“There is knowledge atrophy over the summer,” said Caldwell. “More resourced students have access to summer enrichment programs which could minimize this atrophy, helping them to get ahead. These opportunities should be available to any student who wishes to pursue them. Identical opportunities should be available for youth who are under-resourced.”

The camp, which took place the first week of August, had not been held since 2019 due to the pandemic. Caldwell explained they were able to bring the camp to Merrimack because the grant allowed for transportation to be provided for the 16 participating students from Methuen High School Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School.

Throughout the week, the students built their own robot from the ground up and interacted with SPOT and Pepper, robots built by Boston Dynamic and Softbank Robotics respectively, that the School of Science and Engineering purchased.

“These students participated in an academically accessible and rigorous experiential pre-college enrichment program that taught college level concepts, at zero cost to them,” Caldwell said. “It was a pretty profound experience.”

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