Robotics teacher leads students into new technological age

Agnes Hapka

October 3, 2013

POINT PLEASANT — Lynn Tupes is trying to ensure that her students have access to the newest ideas in robotics and computer-aided design.

Tupes teaches these courses at Mason County Career Center.

“Primarily I’m the drafting teacher,” Tupes said. “But we’ve incorporated robotics as part of the class because we think it’s a great way for students to be more involved with the design spec. They’re pretty adept with the software, and I’d to take it to that next step so they can learn some programming.”

Steven Gooderham, a tenth-grader at MCCC, said that he elected to take Tupes’ classes because he is intrigued by the constant changes in the technology.

“It’s interesting how everything’s changing. Everything is getting smaller. This could be the new age, and I want to be on top of that,” Gooderham said.

Fellow tenth-grader Elias Towner, agreed, adding that he initially decided to begin robotics because of his childhood interest in Transformers. “I’d always liked technology. My dad works at Toyota and he told me a lot about the robotics in car manufacturing.”

Towner said he is considering a future in artificial intelligence.

Ruth Caplinger, county director for career and technical education, said that Tupes has put in a lot of extra work to apply for grants, making purchases like the 3D printer and remote-control robots possible.

“In addition to the initiative she has shown in finding grant money and teaching here in the classroom, she also works in the industry,” Caplinger said.

Tupes, who holds a masters degree in technical and adult education, spent 30 years working for Akso Nobel, and currently works at M&G Polymers.

“I was a piping designer and a CAD manager, and also a process-safety engineer.”

Tupes has introduced a 3D printer to the classroom.

“Students are really excited about using the printer,” Tupes said. “The software and the design replicate what they’ll be using if they go into the industry.”

Daren Matthews, computer-aided design student demonstrated the software he and the other students have been taught to use in the classroom. Matthews has been designing a new smart phone based on the iPhone 5, and he will be able to print a three-dimensional prototype of the design.

“This is my version,” Matthews said. “It’s called the 5D — the D is for Daren.”

Tupes said that Matthews, a senior, has had to learn some pretty specific skills for this type of design.

“He’s actually had to use a micrometer to take the dimensions,” Tupes said. “So he can get to the thousandths of an inch.”

Students must learn to pay attention to the tiniest detail, Tupes added.

Although the class in progress during this interview was peopled by male students, Tupes said that the program has generated a lot of interest among female students as well — there are several female students in other sections of her robotics and computer-aided design classes.

Those desiring more information about these programs and MCCC in general, may call the center at (304) 675-3039.