Robots: More than just games

Explaining how their robot works, Colton Wiggins, Kam Drinkard and Payge Gibson

It was an exciting day in fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade Project Jubilee / Humanities, as students found out that robots are much more than toys or “workers” on an assembly line.

Thanks to Dr. Stephanie Hulon, Instructional Transformation Specialist for Baldwin County Schools, the students were able to Skype with engineers who are involved with AIRBUS. Engineers Tyrone Benjamin and Michael Sutherland both have ties to the Gulf Coast area, with Mr. Sutherland graduating from Daphne High School. A little background on both men is as follows:

Tyrone Benjamin who is currently in the Mobile office is the Version Engineer AIRBUS Americas Engineering Inc. He is originally from Pensacola and served in the Navy where he flew helicopters. He attended the University of South Alabama and has a Degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Michael Sutherland is currently located in California. His official job title is Cabin & Cargo Engineering – Field Engineer Technical Supplier Development for AIRBUS Americas Engineering Inc. Mr. Sutherland graduated from Daphne High School and the University of South Alabama and holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering; however, he works in aerospace engineering.

The students were most interested in how these men chose to become engineers and work the aeronautical engineering field. Both men shared that they were fascinated with airplanes as children, and visited Pensacola Naval Air Station. They loved watching airplanes fly and wanted to help build them as adults.

When talking with the students, they shared how any of them could become aerospace engineers, if they have a love for those things related to flight. They also pointed out that the students were well on their way to being able to do that through their work with building and programming robots in elementary and middle school.

Students asked questions such as: “How many airplanes are flying now?” In response, Mr. Sutherland showed them the website, which shows icons of plans in real time live data. Of course once the students saw so many planes in the area at one time they became concerned that they might be flying into each other. Other websites of interest to the students were and

In addition, the students were able to watch a video from the SpaceX launch on Saturday, January 14. The information is great, and they do a webcast for each of their missions. Students are able to access future launches as well at

At the end of the presentation, all of the students were able to show off the robots that they are currently building for the Southwest Regional Technology Fair in March.