By: Shrijani '25 and Varsitaa '26
Notre Dame’s Robotics Team, the Janksters, recently hosted its 11th annual Robotics Bootcamp - a 4-day camp introducing prospective robotics students to the different aspects of the team. The camp was organized by veteran students who spent time over the summer planning fun, hands-on workshops. This year, they had 14 campers who were all very eager to get a glimpse of how the team operates.
During the first two days of boot camp, campers participated in four different committee workshops to help them better understand the role of each committee within the team. In the mechanical workshop, campers learned how to safely and effectively utilize power tools like hand drills and saws, and used these skills to make and decorate a wooden house. Students explored programming using FLL kits, where they built and coded a lego robot with an arm to learn more about how physical components can be programmed to complete tasks. In the electronics workshop, veterans guided campers in creating a doodle bot where they learned how to make a closed circuit effectively. Campers in the business workshop explored Adobe Illustrator and its key role in the team’s branding, and made some fun buttons to represent themselves. Students also engaged with workshops that were not committee-specific such as driving the robot, learning about the team’s design strategy for this year, and interacting with Jankster memorabilia to learn more about the team’s history.
Every year, campers' skills are tested through creating a Rube Goldberg machine, a machine used to accomplish simple tasks using complicated methods. This year’s challenge was the Spiderman Web Shooter, where students were tasked with both designing a Rube Goldberg machine to shoot out silly string and developing a team brand complete with a team poster. After having some planning and work time, students were ready to demonstrate their machine, and most of them were able to successfully shoot out silly string. At the end, both campers and their student mentors were sprayed with leftover silly string, which was a fun way to wrap up the challenge.
Campers further extended their knowledge of the different committees through two exploratory workshops of their choosing. Mechanical created a design challenge where campers built a mechanism that could protect a water balloon from breaking after being dropped. The programming committee taught campers some basics of Java in order to give them a more cohesive view of how the code is structured on the team. Some campers also attended an electronics workshop, where they learned about and made electrical connections through soldering and crimping. Business taught campers about the role of social media on the team, and campers even helped develop social media posts for the team accounts.
Through the fun challenges and games, campers were able to become closer with each other and the leads. Overall, the camp was a great learning experience for both the campers and the veterans. The team looks forward to their upcoming season and cannot wait to welcome their new members.
Rube Goldberg Machine