GC Opens Engineering/Robotics Lab Promoting "STEM"



Garrett College (GC) opened a new door in education with the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Engineering/Robotics Lab
in the Technology Building on the McHenry campus. This state-of-the-art facility was created to provide expanded hands-on learning opportunities for those pursuing careers in engineering and related fields. State and local officials and dignitaries were on hand to support and applaud the accomplishment.

Garrett College President Dr. Richard MacLennan welcomed those present for last week’s ceremony and thanked all who supported and encouraged the development of this new laboratory. Among those recognized were the Appalachian Regional Commission, Sen. Ben Cardin, Sen. Barbara Mukulski, Garrett County Commissioners, Garrett County Department of Economic Development, the Garrett College Information Technology Team, the Garrett College Facilities Department, and Garrett College Engineering/Robotics Students. “The opening of the Engineering/Robotics Lab is just one example of our commitment to keeping our programs and services relevant and reflecting the needs of our local community,” he said.

Dr. Qing Yuan, director of GC Business and Information Technology, was instrumental in spearheading the development of the electrical engineering program and the lab. She told those present for the event that it represented a great step forward for the college and the community. “This is a significant accomplishment for the college on the journey to promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineer, and Math) Education.  The lab will have great impact on the current and future engineering programs by providing the students opportunities of using the state-of-the-art equipment to gain the necessary knowledge in the engineering field.  It will help bring Garrett College’s engineering program to the next level.  The lab also provides the GC Robotics team necessary tools to build their robots in their quest of knowledge,” she said.

Phil Malone, Garrett College Robotics Team Special Technical Advisor, has been actively involved in promoting STEM education through robotics for Garrett County students for many years. Addressing those gathered for the ceremony, he spoke of the positive effects of robotics teams on students. “In my opinion, there is no better way to retain the theories learned in class, than by applying them to a tough practical problem.   That’s what robotics teams do.  Robotics overlaps so many disciplines, that being on a team is 100% relevant to anyone considering a career in Science, Technology, or Engineering.  As team members learn problem-solving and communication skills they also discover issues with group-dynamics, scheduling, budgeting, and logistics,” he said. He also noted his experience as a past software manager responsible for hiring new graduates. “I can assure everyone here that good grades help talk the talk, but being part of a successful robotics team really lets students walk the walk.”

Electrical engineering student Greg Schrock spoke of the practical applications of the new Engineering/Robotics Lab in his college education. “After having been homeschooled my entire life up until the time I came to Garrett, a new world of opportunities opened up to me.  I was exposed to areas of study such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer programming, and many others.  I found myself contributing things in the classroom that I had learned from robotics, and contributing things in robotics that I had learned in the classroom.  Together, they produced an experience which was very balanced between book learning and practical application.  Since this lab has been operable, we engineering students have been able to use the facilities to produce a number of digital design projects as well as participate in electronic labs.  These have only enhanced my experience at Garrett,” he said.

The Garrett College Robotics team is currently preparing to take part in the National MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) Robotics Competition.

More information on the engineering and robotics opportunities at Garrett College is available on the GC website www.garrettcollege.edu