With CITRIS at UC Merced’s NexTech Robotics, building is believing

Cartoon of children learning from older mentors and of simple, wheeled robots.

Second-year UC Merced mechanical engineering student Lina B-Hernandez had a different experience than many young people growing up in the San Joaquin Valley. “As a middle school student, I learned to do hands-on activities with robotics and coding. This opened my eyes to the many opportunities that I would have in the future, and as a NexTech educator I hope to bring that same feeling to the middle school students.” Despite being two hours drive from Silicon Valley, a technology innovation hub, B-Hernandez’s school in Madera offering robotics is an exception rather than the rule.

CITRIS at UC Merced launched NexTech Robotics in 2015 and has used it to deliver high-quality equipment and experiences with technology. The program was started by an outstanding alumna, Alexus Garcia, who built it from scratch based on robot kits, working with schools to fulfill their schedules and student interests.

The curriculum covers major topics of coding, design, and the interaction between hardware and software to perform a specific task, otherwise known as an embedded system. NexTech is continually adapting and introducing new curriculum to cover topics of 3-D visualization and design and the versatile computer language, Python.