National University System Showcases Robotics and Human-Powered Vehicle at Maker Faire San Diego, Oct. 1-2

Local high school and college students collaborate on science and engineering projects; Public invited to build and race robots on specially-designed racetrack

San Diego, Calif. — Robots, racetracks, and a modified human-powered vehicle, developed by students who are part of the National University System, will be among the featured projects at the Maker Faire San Diego on October 1-2 in Balboa Park. The projects highlight innovative ways that students are engaging with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through this unique collaboration between National University’s School of Engineering and Computing and National University Academy high school students.

This is the second year that the NU-NUA team will showcase their engineering creations and modifications at the Maker Faire, a festival of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. Their projects will be located in front of Balboa Park’s Air and Space Museum. In addition to modifying the team’s human-powered vehicle, activities by NU and NUA students at this year’s Maker Faire include offering visitors a chance to design and build small cars that can be raced around a 12-foot track that integrates a pneumatic launch system, controls, and sensors. 

Both National University – among the largest private nonprofit universities in California – and National University Academy – a WASC-accredited K-12 public charter school, which includes a special STEM-focused program – are part of the National University System, a network of pre-college programs and higher education institutions, a relationship that is strengthened through the collaboration among the high school and university students in advance of the Faire.

“Maker Faire San Diego is an exciting opportunity for our National University System students to collaborate and create projects that allow them to strengthen their engineering and computing skills, and to apply theoretical concepts into practice,” said Dr. John Cicero, Dean of the National University College of Law and Public Service.

The NU-NUA team’s modified human-powered vehicle was inspired by recumbent bicycles, which often feature an enclosed structure around the rider and have as many as four wheels. This year it sports a new top to capture more solar power, with a modular design to better integrate electronics. Students have also improved integration of the biometrics and plan to demonstrate concepts in electrical assist motors.

Also on display will be mini-robots, built by the NUA students with guidance and mentoring from the university engineering and computing students and faculty.  Participants at the Maker Faire will be able to customize and build their own 15-centimeter racing cars, using metrics and data from former races to enhance performance. There will also be demonstrations of augmented and virtual reality, with hologram technology being incorporated into robotics and automotive engineering demonstrations.

The collaborative opportunities generated by the project are designed to incorporate team work, problem solving, and innovation, while inspiring academic performance and supporting societal demand for more scientists, engineers, and inventors.

“By creating mentors and mentoring and coaching opportunities for university students in engineering and computing, we’re helping to close the loop,” says Dr. James Jaurez, associate professor in NU’s School of Engineering and Computing, and coach of the robotics club at NUA. “We’re taking students and making them coaches, mentors, and what we love the most, they’re becoming teachers. They’re taking the classroom curricula and actually applying it to teaching young people.”

Part of Innovate San Diego week, The Maker Faire San Diego is a partnership that includes the San Diego Makers Guild, the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, and park museums. The event aims to showcase innovation in San Diego, a perfect fit for the National University School of Engineering and Computing, which provides a combination of skills and knowledge vital to pursuing career opportunities in today’s workplace through a broad spectrum of relevant, challenging, and highly technical academic programs.


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About National University
Founded in 1971, National University is one of the largest private, nonprofit universities in California. With more than 230,000 alumni, National University is the flagship institution of the National University System. National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students. Four schools and two colleges – the College of Letters and Sciences; the Sanford College of Education; the School of Business and Management; the School of Engineering and Computing; the School of Health and Human Services; and the School of Professional Studies – offer more than 75 graduate and undergraduate degrees and 23 teacher credentials. Programs are offered at locations throughout California and across the nation, and are also available online. National University is headquartered in La Jolla, California.

About National University Academy (NUA)
NUA is a tuition-free, WASC-accredited, K-12 public charter school offering elementary, middle, and high school programs in an independent study format.

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