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Mechatronic Students Build Robot for Recruiting Purposes

Thursday, April 3, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

MtrakTSTC students Jason Edwards and Amelia Ximenes were just looking for a way to promote the Mechatronics Technology Program. The program, one of 27 Associates of Applied Science programs at Texas State Technical College combines mechanics, electronics and computer control in automated systems.

And for Edwards and Ximenes, it's developed into a passion.

In January, the pair along with teaching lab assistant Jenaro Flores-Jinez started working on a robot equipped with cannons that shoot out T-shirts. The robot, M-Trak 1, has been used at a couple of recruiting events to pique potential students' interest about the program.

Their last recruiting outing was at Kingsville High School and Flores-Jinez said M-Trak 1 was a huge hit with all the students in attendance.

"They wanted to build something that was going to represent us as a program on a big scale," Flores-Jinez said. "They worked on several prototypes and finally started working the bigger model recently. They started back in January and have done a great job."

Edwards and Ximenes built everything from the motor control of the robot to the air-based system used to launch the T-shirts up to 80-feet in the air.

When Ximenes, a 2013 Lyford High School graduate, first enrolled at TSTC she planned on taking part in the Nursing Program. But after meeting with instructors, Ximenes said she fell in love with the Mechatronics Program and the potential that awaits her after graduation.

The Mechatronics Program is a non-traditional track for Ximenes and is currently one of only two females enrolled in the program with 60 males.

"I think seeing me at these recruiting events encourages other girls to be interested," said Ximenes, who's in her second semester in the program. "They ask about the program and what it is that we do. Having the robot there to show them what I've been working on this semester helps get them even more interested."

Edwards, a 2006 graduate from Harlingen South, said working on M-Trak 1 has helped him hone his skills in the program and looks forward to taking it on more recruiting trips before the semester ends.

It's been great teaming up with Amelia on this project," Edwards said. "It's one thing to learn theory in the classroom but to actually put it to use and build something like this is something else."

"I'm very proud of them," Flores-Jinez said. "This was all their idea from the design to the logistics. They've put in the time and effort to get this done."

For more information on the Mechatronics Technology Program, go to http://www.tstc.edu/harlingenmt.

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