Justin Stiltner, an undergraduate student from Grundy, Va., is working with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. as a participant in the NASA Robotics Academy.

Stiltner works as the team lead for one of seven NASA Robotics Academy primary student projects. Stiltner’s team, consisting of three other students and a NASA engineer who serves as the Principal Investigator (PI), is developing a self-healing and self-assembling mechanism for robots that have the ability to walk as a human would.

“We’re working at NASA, so we have the best and the brightest [people] around us,” Stiltner said. “If you don’t know something, then there is always someone there to help you out. You are also contributing to the knowledge as a whole.”

Stiltner is in his junior year at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, W.V and is pursuing a degree in computer sciences. He has had an interest in robotics since high school, gaining experience in the field as he helped start a For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition team at his high school. The NASA Robotics Academy is the perfect segue between high school robotic programs, college, and the “real world” of robotics engineering.

The NASA Robotics Academy is a unique, exciting program that targets rising college freshmen and sophomores, individuals that internship programs often overlook. Each participant, such as Stiltner, is particularly interested in robotics and often experienced in robot design and development.

The Robotics Academy aims to solidify its participants’ resolve to continue pursuing degrees in engineering with a focus in robotics by providing students with the means to engineer and produce real-world solutions to problems. 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 ten-week NASA Robotics Academy runs from June 5 through Aug. 11. With this program, NASA continues the agency’s tradition of investing in the nation’s education programs. It is directly tied to the agency’s major educational goal of strengthening NASA’s and the nation’s future workforce. Through this and the agency’s other college and university programs, NASA will identify and develop the critical skills and capabilities needed to achieve the Vision for Space Exploration.