Odyssey Robotics

One of the coolest programs in which I’ve participated over the years is the five weeks I spend every June & July teaching for the Odyssey Transformers robotics program for rising sophomores from the Atlanta Public Schools.  Yesterday we took a field trip to Atlanta’s St. Joseph Hospital Visconti Center for Robotic Surgery.  This is our 3rd or 4th trip there, and it continues to be one of the best experiences for the group each year.

Each student in the program got to sit at the controls

and drive the $2 million surgical robot that has made dramatic advances in heart, urological, prostate, and gynecologic surgeries.

This last image shows the robotic “hands” as one of the students tried to manipulate a dime and a suturing needle.

If you ever have any surgical needs, you really should investigate the promises of robotic-assisted surgery.  We learned that there are medical facilities throughout the country offering this, and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta is a leading training facility.  AMAZING field trip.

We also had a spectacular visit last week to Factory Automation, a full-service systems integration company, and got to see an automotive manufacturing robot Factory Automation had customized for a portion of an axle construction.  Their comments about what the students needed to do to work as part of a team on complicated projects, reinforcement of the team and robotics concepts my Odyssey partner and I have been daily repeating to the students, how they needed to prepare themselves in high school, and the MANY collegiate paths one could take to pursue robotics as a career were invaluable.  Overall, this was probably the best all-around connected field trip I’ve ever attended.  The only bummer for the students was that they didn’t actually get to drive anything.  On the other hand, the owners and engineers went WAY out of their way to reach out to the students and show them all aspects of engineering an integrated robotics approach to manufacturing.

I am deeply grateful for what I’ve learned from both Factory Automation and St. Joseph’s Hospital.  I’m even more thankful for the extremely valuable time both took out of their busy days to talk with my students.

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