Student spending co-op experience building robots

Mar 13, 2014

Designing and experimenting with new robots, Rick Pease is working on a project called the Mandy Telepresence robot.

Rick Pease has avoided traditional corporate environments in his co-op placement, instead opting to purse the hobbyist industry at AndyMark Inc.

“I like messing with the hobbyist market right now because I like programming and building robots,” Pease said. “In high school, my school started a robotics team in my sophomore year and I heard about it from one of my tech teachers. I started experimenting and got hooked.”

Rick PeasePease graduated from Grand Blanc High school in Grand Blanc, Mich., and it was his robotics experience that drove him to Kettering to study Electrical Engineering and then to AndyMark for his co-op placement.

AndyMark aims to support and grow robotics education and innovative mechanical design for mobility applications. They are one of the most prominent supporters of FIRST Robotics competitions across the country as they design and supply specialized robotics components to teams.  The company was founded in 2004 in Kokomo, Ind., by Andy Baker and Mark Koors and has also volunteered significant time to FIRST Robotics competitions.

“AndyMark, at least from my experience, since they’re a small company, you have a greater impact on things. Not only can you impact the end product but you can impact how the company runs,” Pease said. “It’s nice to walk into the hallway and know the person you run into. It feels like a FIRST robotics team.”

Apart from designing and experimenting with new tools and robots, Pease is also working on a side project called the Mandy Telepresence robot. It’s a mobile robot that permits remote video chat opportunities. Pease programmed the software for the transportable Mandy Telepresence robot.

“If someone needs to go on a business trip, they can telepresence into a meeting and check up on people. If you have a warehouse of stuff, you can drive it down and check in remotely,” Pease said. “The range depends on your Wifi coverage. If you have Wifi, the robot can drive. If you have a 3G card, you can have enough throughput to go anywhere with service.”

Pease foresees a variety of applications for Mandy Telepresence ranging from business commuting to higher education.

“It seems like it can be used in an educational environment pretty easily and they’re kind of cheap,” Pease said. “I could see Kettering using one of these because they can fall into a couple different classes. It uses a Nexus application tablet, you can have a mobile apps class develop an application and your haptics class can interface into this robot and do something with that.”

The Mandy Telespresence is currently about $1,500 with the application and tablet and is delivered completely wired, programmed, and ready to use out of the box.

Pease is appreciative of the professional opportunities that Kettering has provided him as it’s pushed him to explore different work avenues and for now, he feels like he’s on the right track.  

“I want to do programming to make things move. I want to program embedded systems,” Pease said. “"I see myself focusing on controls work in the future."