National University System Students Build Robots and Adapt Human Powered Vehicle for Maker Faire San Diego

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National University School of Engineering and Computing students and National University Academy Charter School high school students participate in Oct. 3-4 Balboa Park event

engineering projects National University

One of the featured projects by National University students will be a modified human powered vehicle

We are thrilled to give these students a chance to showcase their finished projects, and to help bring attention to the creative and innovative spirit behind STEM studies and careers.

Robots and a modified human powered vehicle by National University and National University Academy (NUA) students will be featured at the first-ever Maker Faire San Diego Oct. 3-4 in Balboa Park. The projects were developed through a collaboration between the University’s School of Engineering and Computing and high school students who are part of the Academy’s special STEM-focused program.

Both National University - the second largest private nonprofit university in California - and National University Academy - a WASC-accredited K-12 public charter school - are part of the National University System, a network of pre-college programs and higher education institutions. Their engineering creations will be part of the first full-scale Maker Faire in Southern California, a festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. They will be showcased in front of Balboa Park’s Air and Space Museum

“Maker Faire San Diego is an exciting opportunity for our National University System students to work together in developing and creating projects that allow them to stretch their engineering and computing skills from theory to practice,” said Dr. John Cicero, Dean of the National University School of Engineering and Computing. “We are thrilled to give these students a chance to showcase their finished projects, and to help bring attention to the creative and innovative spirit behind STEM studies and careers.”

More than 50 National University and NUA students have been involved the projects, some of which are class projects and others that are being done by a student club. National University students in the Computer Information Systems program have modified a human powered vehicle. Inspired by recumbent bicycles, these vehicles often feature an enclosed structure around the rider and as many as four wheels. The vehicle is part of the School of Engineering and Computing’s initiative to challenge students to contribute to green transportation innovations and trends. The students have equipped it with a solar-powered heart monitor and other gadgets to measure vital signs

Also on display will be mini-robots that resemble Mars exploration rovers built by high school students at NUA 1001, a unique STEM-focused program that is part of the National University Academy (NUA) public charter school. Mohammed Shafi, a junior at NUA 1001, is among the students behind the mini-robots. He and his cohorts in an NUA 1001 robotics club carefully disassembled two remote control cars and reconfigured them with re-coded circuit boards. No longer race cars, they are programmed to scoop up items in a sandbox on command. “It’s taken a lot of work, but it’s been a lot of fun,” he said.

Brian Jensen, Interim Vice Chancellor of National University System’s Pre-College Programs, which includes NUA and its NUA1001, noted the importance of supporting STEM activities for students at early ages: “We are so proud of what these high school students have done and what they are learning through their own inquisitiveness and their collaborations with National University computer and engineering faculty and students.”

National University Computer Information Systems undergraduate students are also working on various Maker Faire projects, including User Experience (UX) testing environments and booth design elements. The University students are providing guidance and feedback to the high school students’ projects in conjunction with Fardusa Sharif, the high school students’ NUA teacher mentor, and Dr. James Jaurez, National University School of Engineering and Computing assistant professor: “The Maker Faire San Diego is giving our students an opportunity to work on hands-on projects with fellow engineers and show their passion for technology. It’s been a very engaging and motivating experience,” he said.

The Maker Faire San Diego is a partnership that includes the San Diego Makers Guild, the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, and 10 park museums. Among the goals of the multi-museum event is to showcase innovation in San Diego, a perfect fit for the National University School of Engineering and Computing, which provides a combination of skills and knowledge vital to pursuing career opportunities in today’s workplace through a broad spectrum of relevant, challenging, and highly technical academic programs. An estimated 10,000 spectators are expected to attend the event. For tickets:

About National University Founded in 1971, National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California. With 30,000 students and more than 140,000 alumni, National University is the flagship institution of the National University System. National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students. Five schools and one college – the College of Letters and Sciences; the School of Business and Management; the School of Education; the School of Engineering and Computing; the School of Health and Human Services; and the School of Professional Studies – offer more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degrees and 23 teacher credentials. Programs are offered at locations throughout California and across the nation, and are also available online. National University is headquartered in La Jolla, California. To learn more, visit
About National University Academy (NUA) The National University Academy serves students in over 20 locations throughout central, southern, and northern California. NUA is a tuition-free, WASC-accredited, K-12 public charter school offering elementary, middle and high school programs in an independent study format.

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Anna Cearley
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