Students and faculty gathered for Montclair State University Robotics Club Opening and the first annual robotics showcase on November 17th hosted by the Robotics Club’s four E-Board members and their advisor Dr. Weitian Wang.
With opening remarks from Omar Obidat, the founder President, a senior computer science major, and a current research assistant for the CRoSS lab, the showcase kicked off with his presentation highlighting the newly minted club’s mission and aspirations for the future. Obidat highlighted his desire that the club be a place where students of any major feel comfortable to participate and explore a possible interest in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence. He also highlighted that the club is a great fit both for students wishing to pursue careers in robotics and those that are exploring a hobby.
The newborn club will be supported by the Computer Science department. Chairperson Dr. Constantine Coutras highlighted his excitement for the club’s future as he shared some words of encouragement at the end of Obidat’s opening remarks. Dr. Coutras stressed the importance of supporting student clubs and allowing them to pursue new opportunities. He also encouraged the club to reflect the diversity of the university’s student body, reminding all to “try to always be inclusive and try to help everyone out.”
Montclair State University is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with about 30% of the student body being Hispanic/Latino. The school also has a large Female demographic with about 60% of enrolled undergraduates identifying as such. Coutras argued it is important for the club’s E-Board to reflect this especially in a field like Computer Science and Information Technology that in the past has been known to exclude women and people of color.
At the end of his speech, Obidat introduced the club’s founder faculty advisor Dr. Weitian Wang, the Vice President Jesse Parron, the Secretary Jean-Jacques N’Dri, and Treasurer Laury Rodríguez.
At the beginning of Fall 2021, Obidat recruited his robotics classmates, fellow Seniors Parron and N’Dri to prepare for forming a Robotics Club, which received technical support from the National Science Foundation under Grant CNS-2104742 and Grant CNS-2117308. The three students set out to collect the necessary signatures for the club’s commencement and to scope out the potential interest level of students. That’s how they met Laury, a junior who just transferred into Montclair this fall. Given her background in the corporate financial industry, Obidat elected her as the last member of the E-Board.
The showcase was set up as an interactive experience. There were multiple robots and smart systems to choose from including a collaborative robot platform SmaRC, an immersive VR system, a smart armband, a flat screen TV rigged with four sensors turning it into a touch screen display, a rover built and programmed by graduate student Laura Paulino, amongst others.
Dr. Lora Billings, Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, visited the showcase. She was glad to see so many students from different majors interested in robotics. Dr. Billings highlighted several future contributions the robotics club could make to supporting students’ education for the university.
Attendees took turns learning about and testing different robots. They also had the opportunity to speak with members of the E-Board and Dr. Wang.
A number of faculty members heard about the event and decided to pay a visit. Gen Hinson, Director of Career Services for the College of Science and Mathematics attended after hearing about the event from the club’s Treasurer just an hour prior at another event. She was delighted with the outcome and stated afterwards “it is always a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to see first-hand the great projects in which students are involved.”
“The robotics club and its first annual robotics showcase received high recognition from students. The club’s E-Board did a great job and I believe they will bring more exciting robotics activities for our students and the campus community to enjoy” said Dr. Wang.
To keep up to date with the club’s future events, follow them on engage.