GradEngage Fellow Launches Robotics Club for Middle School Students

A woman explains something to a group of students and the graduate fellow
Middle school students from Durham Public Schools visit Duke as part of a GradEngage project run by PhD student Eric Yeats (carrying backpack). Photo by John Zhu.

The Duke Graduate School recently profiled Eric Yeats, a 2021-2022 GradEngage fellow, who partnered with Durham Public Schools to create a robotics club for middle schoolers at two local schools.

When he was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt, Eric Yeats volunteered with an initiative to teach programming to K-12 students. In those sessions, students learned to write code that moved cartoon characters around a computer screen. While some of them had fun, Yeats felt something was missing from the experience—he wanted something more tangible than pixels on a screen.

Now entering his fourth year as a Ph.D. candidate at Duke, Yeats has spent the past few months creating the experience he envisioned by partnering with Durham Public Schools to offer a free robotics club for local middle schools that need more STEM-based afterschool opportunities.

“What really inspired me to do this project is I just really enjoy the process of engineering and problem-solving, and especially programming, and I just wanted to share how much I enjoy it with the kids at school,” said Yeats, a Sloan Scholar who is pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering in Professor Hai “Helen” Li’s lab.

Read the rest of the story on the Duke Graduate School website.