Young Entrepreneurs Explore Smart-Farming 

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Young Entrepreneurs Explore Smart-Farming 

Students perform repairs and modifications on a robot during the UTRGV Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center summer camp in June.
Students perform repairs and modifications on a robot during the UTRGV Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center summer camp in June.

Eight-day camp merges robotics with business

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s McAllen Teaching Site was recently crowded with eager IDEA high school students waiting to showcase their smart-farming robots. The robots’ yield ultimately would determine the fate of their newly founded small businesses.

Students cheered as the robots they had built collected simulated crops and piglets.

The university’s Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center this summer hosted its sixth annual summer camp for IDEA high school students. The eight-day camp explored a unique curriculum that merges engineering and robotics with business and entrepreneurship. TMAC hosted two eight-day sessions for the IDEA students.

Throughout the eight days, students learned how to manufacture robots. They then used them to perform tasks on a simulated farm. Depending on the yield, their business must calculate its net worth and present it to investors, along with other aspects of their business plan. After investors propose their bids, students must negotiate to determine which one will work best for the company.

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.

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