Playing with technology can lead kids to engineering; dustpan test

Careers in mechanical and electrical engineering start when kids have fun. For adults, volunteering can start with the dustpan test and lead to doctorate-level work in artificial intelligence, says Control Engineering blogger Paul Grayson.
By Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief April 13, 2009
Having fun putting things together opens young eyes and hearts to engineering.


A young AIM Team Friday Night Support Staff member installs one of a series of new items for testing on the AIM Team’s technology demonstration vehicle, AGV WENDY DARLING, an automated guided vehicle.

Careers in mechanical and electrical engineering, science, and math start when kids have fun with engineering. Volunteering for something fun can start with the “dustpan test” and lead to doctorate-level work in artificial intelligence, according to Paul F. Grayson, chief engineer at American Industrial Magic LLC.
Grayson helps mix donated technologies with AIM Team volunteers in a race to build automated guided vehicles. Volunteers have to earn their membership on the AIM Team by doing assigned tasks and continue to do so to keep their membership.
“Depending on a person’s interests and ambitions, what they can learn working here on automated guided vehicles goes all the way up to the doctorate level,” Grayson says. “For example, sponsors have supplied us with materials that allow AIM Team members to experiment with advanced artificial neural networks and apply them to the driving task. There are other equally advanced directions an AIM Team members can go in their practical education here, at no cost to the volunteer. It all starts with the dustpan test.”
In a recent post to his Control Engineering blog, AIMing for Automated Vehicles, Grayson suggests how a simple

dustpan test (read explanation here) can be important to a future in engineering

.d do. We only count the wins here, so trying something and discovering that you are not any good at it does not count against you.” 
Grayson adds,
Helping the AIM Team comes in many forms, including:
-Following the

AIMing for Automated Vehicles blog

, and posting advice and tips using the TalkBack tool (link to if from your site, Grayson suggests);
-Donating technologies; and
-Lending a hand.
Related links
Subscribe to AIMing for Automated Vehicles as a RSS feed ; See Robot Club of Traverse City ; American Industrial Magic ; and

Engineering hope

.

Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief
Control Engineering News Desk
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