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Robotics club looking to attract more members

The sky is pretty much the limit in terms of what participants can dream up to create at a local robotics club.
Mark Custance of Lakeview Computers is looking forward to expanding a local robotics club in the next few months. Sessions are held in a section of the store

The sky is pretty much the limit in terms of what participants can dream up to create at a local robotics club.

Mark Custance, owner of Lakeview Computers, is enthusiastic about attracting more people to sessions he’s hosting at the store that have to do with exploring the intriguing world of robotics.

Custance said robotics programs are available in high schools in the area, but not in Sylvan Lake to his knowledge.

“I’ve actually been trying to get a robotics and electronics club started for two years in Sylvan Lake,” he said. He set apart a space at Lakeview Computers that is dedicated to robotics, and over the past few months an increasing number of people are showing interest. He aims to host sessions on the second Saturday of the month.

“We’ve started to create a gathering place where people could come and ask their electronics questions and play with the robotics. We’ve also had a couple of Saturday mornings where people have come in and shown off their projects.

“You can build things from alarms that tell you when your dogs want in from outside to something that turns your coffee pot on. We want to encourage innovation.”

Custance noted that many computer and electronic breakthroughs over the years have stemmed from these types of clubs where folks get together to share their ideas and work on an array of projects.

“I want to have a place that facilitates that for the next generation. It’s all about what can we do to nurture them and give them a space that’s theirs.

“Kids are happy because it’s fun, and parents are happy because there is an educational component to it. It really is about your imagination being let loose.”

Custance’s interest in how things work stretches back to his youth. And he enjoys sharing his passion for electronics and robotics with others.

“I love to see children and adults rediscover that creative force that lies dormant within most of us.”

Seeing people discover their own potential when it comes to these subjects is always a delight as well. “It’s always about pushing the edges, and that’s what I want to see. What is the next thing?”

He said virtually anyone can drop in and try their hand at building a robot. A person doesn’t have to have an extensive knowledge of the inner workings of computers and electronics, for example.

“If someone has a desire to explore and learn, there is no prerequisite,” he said.

“Anybody can come. That’s also the neat aspect of robotics teams -- you’ll have a team where one person is really good at project management, another is good at the electronics -- it creates that collaborative experience,” he said.

Age is certainly not an obstacle either.

“The youngest person I know who has worked with a kit is three years old, and the oldest person is in their 80s.”

Meanwhile, future partnerships with various sectors of the community look promising as well. Custance said staff at the local youth centre are excited about linking up with the robotics club.

“I also really want to work in conjunction with the schools.”

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Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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