Wheeling High School students show off DJ Robot

Wheeling High School robotics students are pushing the boundaries of robotics education.

Wheeling was the only high school with a display at Automate, the world's largest robotics conference held at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago. They showed off their DJ robot that can play the keyboard.

“I think it’s pretty cool that Wheeling is the only high school in this entire show,” Wheeling Engineering & Manufacturing instructor Tom Steinbach said. “This is the world’s largest robotics and automation show. And our kids have gotten a lot of compliments at this cell and how it came together with the lights, the sound and the coding. [They] really did it all.”

The students worked on this project for most of the school year. They had to learn the keyboard first before teaching the robot through code. As their proficiency grew, so did the robot’s capabilities, eventually programming the DJ robot to play multiple tracks.

It was an excellent experience for the students as they were able to explore the robotics industry.

“I love being here because I can explore and see stuff I haven’t seen in a while,” Wheeling senior Jose Lopez said. “It gives me the opportunity to interact with other people, socialize and get opportunities to study more in robotics.”

The opportunity allowed students not only to meet people with common interests but to make connections as well. Being the only high school at the event caught the attention of several companies, businesses and event attendees who were able to give advice to students on their future careers in robotics and engineering.

“Being the only high school here has been very cool and we’re very lucky to do this because not a lot of people can do this,” Wheeling junior Adrian Alvarez said. “And this is just very good for us because it helps us branch out and get to know people. Most importantly, it helps companies contact us so we can learn a lot from them.”

Wheeling junior Jonathan Martinez was thankful to the school’s engineering program for allowing them the opportunity to present at the event, “I think our program really helps us get these opportunities to branch out and get to experience this industry we’re in right now. I’m so happy that our school is able to do this. I think other schools should do it because it’s such a rare opportunity for us to experience this.”

While other high schools may be in attendance in the future, Steinbach and his students were proud to be the only representatives of secondary education at the show.

“It’s cool to represent Wheeling and District 214 at this show,” Steinbach said.

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