A Florida undergraduate student has traveled to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. for the NASA Robotics Academy.

In its second year, the annual NASA Robotics Academy introduces its 29, carefully selected participants to challenging and inspiring robotic research projects.

For example, several of the students develop sophisticated robotic systems and, by the end of the ten-week program, present working prototypes. Teams of undergraduate and graduate students work closely with Goddard and industry robotic specialists, which is true for each NASA Robotics Academy project, to produce advanced robots that visualize, sense and successfully traverse a complex environment.

The NASA Robotics Academy is a unique, exciting program that targets rising college freshmen and sophomores, individuals that internship programs often overlook. Each participant is particularly interested in robotics and often experienced in robot design and development. Many are veterans of high school robotic programs such as the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition. Therefore, the undergraduate students’ preliminary knowledge of robotic systems and a youthful tendency toward ingenuity and innovation plus key contributions from graduate students and robotic specialists prime the NASA Robotics Academy for success.

In addition, the Academy aims to solidify its undergraduate and graduate participants’ resolve to continue to pursue engineering with a focus in robotics. The students are not only given real-world problems, but are provided the means to engineer and produce real solutions. As a result, the experience inspires and shapes the next generation of robotic specialists as well as introduces them to NASA and other robotic industry leaders.

The majority of the NASA Robotics Academy’s participants are stationed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Maryland’s Space Systems Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, Morgan State University and Anthrotronix. The students are split into seven, 4-member teams. Each team consists of three undergraduate students, an advanced undergraduate or graduate team lead and a Principal Investigator (PI), the Goddard or industry robotics specialist.

One student is working on a special project with Morgan State University’s Summer Institute of Robotics for high school students.

Ideally, the NASA Robotics Academy experience will segue the students into future career opportunities, potentially with NASA and other members of the robotic industry.

“The purpose of the program is to develop the next generation of robotic specialists not only for NASA but also for academia and the robotic industry,” said Dave Rosage, director of the NASA Robotics Academy.

The ten-week NASA Robotics Academy runs from June 5 through Aug. 11.

The student is Tiffany Lee from Palm City, Fla.