TSTC students learn to use a robotic arm with Lincoln Logs

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Electromechanical Technology program begin the day using an unusual combination: Lincoln Logs and a robotic arm.

During lab sessions, students practice moving a robotic arm through a log structure to drop a pin from its perch. The goal is to move the pin without knocking over any of the logs. It is one of the best ways for students to focus on the tasks ahead, said instructor Jeff Olney.

“I have always been interested in learning how machines work,” said Noah Grant, a first-year student from Snyder.

Grant focused intently as he maneuvered the robotic arm through the small opening to drop the pin, but he admitted that it took him time to get the hang of it.

“It was a little strange setting it up, but once you get in the groove, it is fun and exciting,” he said. “I wanted to stay after class and work on it some more.”

During the program, which is available at the Sweetwater campus exclusively, students will combine computers with control, electrical and mechanical systems that can be used to power machines in a variety of industries.

Kristopher Talamantes, a U.S. Air Force veteran from San Angelo, had some prior knowledge in the field. He was an electrician in the military before beginning classes at TSTC.

“I figured since I was out of the military, this would be the next step for me. It is in the same field I was working in, and this will help me expand my knowledge,” he said.

Talamantes toured TSTC in high school but opted for a career in the military. He knew that TSTC would be an option to further his education after his service.

“I was excited to come to school,” he said. “We started using the robotic arm on the first day. I was ready to come back to class and do it again.”

Talamantes said he looks forward to learning about all aspects of Electromechanical Technology.

“This is going to prepare me for working with the robot, as well as teaching me patience,” he said. “I am looking forward to learning how things work.”

As for choosing a career, students will have options after graduation. Grant said he would like to work in an electrical substation or a manufacturing plant.

“I think it would be pretty fun to design and sell machines,” he said.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.