Educator Spotlights

Educator Spotlight, Dr. Brent Hollers from Fayetteville, Georgia

May 23, 2024 — 3 minutes

AI, Mechatronics & Mascots!

We had a great conversation with Dr. Brent Hollers, a seasoned STEM Director and Teacher from Fayetteville, Georgia who shared the ins and outs of his experience with DroneBlocks’ Drone Products and the Quadruped Robot Program. Dr. Hollers provides tons of great insight into his implementation of the Unitree Go1 or Go2 with various age groups and different class settings, and the many benefits that arose.

Tell me about yourself and a little about your current role that involves the Unitree Go1?

My name is Dr. Brent Hollers and I am the director of IT and STEM at St. Mary’s Academy in Fayetteville, GA. I also happen to teach high school STEM courses and run our STEM lab. This requires me to develop and teach programs which involve CAD, programming, circuits, and many other STEM-related topics. One area in which I actually received a Master’s degree was in Data Science. My understanding of the importance of AI to our future led me to look for tools that students could use which have a direct and tangible impact on their environment and the world. The Unitree GO1 was an obvious choice. It provides a platform to teach coding, embedded systems, data collection and analysis, and AI model development.

What inspired or interested you about this field?

I have always been a tinkerer and had a fascination with robotics. I have coached competition robotics for 9 years at a variety of levels and keep on top of the current trends we see from companies like Boston Dynamics and others. I also teach programming and have seen the rise in AI as an important area where students must learn to grow and understand its implications. 

How did you first hear about DroneBlocks, and more specifically the “Quadruped Robot” program?

When I was brought on to the school, I was tasked with building out our newly renovated STEM lab with the latest equipment and resources for our students. I had already purchased the Droneblocks software and drones through the company because of my great experience with the curriculum and tools Droneblocks provides. I received an email about a new type of device which could help my students learn about AI and mechatronics in a fun and engaging package, the Unitree GO1.   

What excited you most about the Unitree Go1/DroneBlocks? Were there any pleasant surprises when you got your hands on it?

I was actually fascinated by how many people of all ages are interested in Sonny (our GO1). It has become our unofficial school mascot, participating in our school play, pep rallies, and even dancing with the dance team. Students of all age levels have programmed it, designed attachments, and even built a dog house. As the curriculum has progressed, it is a tool that has unbounded potential to teach students a variety of skills. 

What have been your students’ experiences with the program?

Our students have programmed Sonny to complete some basic tasks and have started learning about the infrastructure and systems that are involved. It has really given them a hands-on look at how a variety of computing resources can be packaged and work interdependently with each other. It also drives interest in our programming courses in the school because so many students want to work with Sonny. 

Have you had the chance to take advantage of the DroneBlocks course material such as our guides on JavaScript/C++, or our new Computer Vision Course? What did you think?

Yes, my high school students began working with the curriculum as part of a final project in our robotics course. They were very engaged and interested in the Javascript module and were able to teach themselves (with the help of the curriculum) to perform basic movements and functions. We have also had middle school students use the block programming tools to control Sonny. 

Anything else you would like to mention, or projects/people you’d like to give a shout-out?

We are excited to pair Sonny with a databot to even further expand its capabilities and provide other unique avenues for student interactions. We also wanted to thank the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia for providing the grant to purchase Sonny. We also would like to thank Foxy Wraps in Tyrone, GA for doing a custom wrap on Sonny which makes it stand out with our school branding!

To learn more about DroneBlocks’ latest Quadruped Robot offering, Click HERE!

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