So Ends the Summer of the Robot

14 Aug 2017

An upper year Engineering Physics student told me at the beginning of May that this would be the summer where “they take all of you and put you in a room to mash and force you into a cohesive whole.”

It’s not the most pleasant description, but in hindsight I see his point. In the first half of the summer, we took 5 courses in 6 weeks.1 The second half was all robot making, all the time.

How much robot making? Well, on a typical day in the second half of the summer, the lab opened at 9am and closed at 7 or 8pm. In later weeks, the students would beg our TAs and instructors – or bribe them with food – to stay longer and keep the lab open. In the final two weeks, it was normal for people to stay until midnight, and in the last few days, some people pulled all nighters.

When you spend that much time in a room with the same group of people, it’s impossible not to develop some slight sense of camaraderie.

The Walkerville Elementary robot-makers I saw these guys way more than I saw my significant other.

You get to share a lot of emotional highs. Like this one, which was the first time we saw our robot complete the full course:

And some emotional lows, which were thankfully not captured on camera, but are probably inevitable when you’ve spent hours in an un-air-conditioned lab, and it’s now 4pm and you haven’t eaten anything since breakfast because the sensors broke at 10am and who has time to get food when there are circuits to fix?

In short, it was a fantastic summer.

  1. For context, a normal semester is usually 5 courses in 13 weeks.