Robotics Grows in Popularity through E3 Robotics Center
Writer & Photographer / Aly Snyder
Located in northern Elkhart, you will find one of the most unique businesses in the area. E3 Robotics Center (E3RC) is a K-12 STEM program focused on exploration, education, and engagement. Their goal is to use a program called FIRST Robotics to teach children and young adults the value of robotics.
E3RC moved into their current building in the summer of 2019 and partnered with one of their corporate sponsors, Thermodyne1. As you enter the facility, you immediately get the feeling that this is a one-of-a-kind business. You will find tables covered in a variety of robots that students have built from scratch, all of which operate for a certain purpose. For example, students will have courses set up where they use blocks, cones, and different objects to maneuver the robot around a course. They use programs that they have developed themselves to control the robot to pick up items and drop them in a specific location, similar to other sports.
For those unfamiliar with FIRST Robotics, it can be described as the ultimate game for the mind. By following strict rules and time limits, high school students are challenged to build industrial-size robots to compete in different games against other teams. Besides learning how to physically build robots, the teams are taught a variety of life skills. This includes fundraising to meet their goals, learning how to create a team brand, and spreading the word about STEM education in the community.
There are many reasons to join the E3RC program. The name comes directly from the values they focus heavily on: exploration, education and engagement. Brian Boehler, Executive Director of E3RC, puts emphasis on creating a fun environment where people want to come learn the sport, as well as teaching them lifelong skills about business, teamwork, and how to use science as a creative outlet.
As the popularity of robotics has grown over the years, so has the desire for people to be part of the E3RC family. Students come from all over the community to form teams. Some of the school systems that students come from include Middlebury, Concord, Baugo, WaNee, Mishawaka, South Bend, Goshen, Elkhart, and even students who are homeschooled. Boeher explains how he encourages the STEM system to be used in the classroom using robotics. He works directly with teachers, staff, and students to teach them about STEM and robotics and help them develop their skills.
Some of the accomplishments of E3RC include qualifying and winning multiple robotics competitions at the local and state level. This is evident in the quantity of trophies and medals that line the walls of their facility. Like other sports, robotics teams have a competition season that they train for. Although it is a competitive sport, students are taught sportsmanship as they go up against some of the biggest robotics leagues in the industry.
Beyond just robotics, E3RC offers other creative outlets for students. Some of these include Lego building projects and competitive gaming. As you head to the back of the building, you will find a state-of-the-art gaming room full of computers and top of the line computers and monitors.
The team at E3RC invites anyone in the community to come take a look around the facility and see all they have to offer. Although they focus primarily on students, they are more than happy to educate individuals of all ages on STEM and robotics.
Whether you are looking to join a summer camp, or would like to join a competitive league, there is something for everyone to enjoy. You can learn more about robotics in general, and the unique E3RC approach, on their website at E3Robotics.org. Stay up to date with them by following them on social media. They can be found on Instagram @E3RoboticsCenter, on Facebook @E3RoboticsCenter, and on Twitter @E3RoboticsCtr.
They are located at 3709 Cassopolis St Suite E, Elkhart, IN 46514 and can be contacted via phone at (574) 612-2484.
Next time you are looking to challenge your mind, consider giving E3 Robotics Center a visit!