Pre-University Engineering and FIRST Robotics

Pre-University Engineering

SJA’s Design, Innovation, and Engineering program is an elective, multi-faceted system of guidance, coursework, work experience, mentoring, and training that provides students with pre-university experience in engineering and design. Our program aims to increase the number of students—particularly young women and other students traditionally underrepresented in the STeM disciplines—in science and technology programs. Courses include Introduction to Robotics, Introduction to Design, Innovation, and Development, Engineering, Design, and Development, Digital Electronics, Civil Engineering and Architecture, Biotechnical Engineering, and Game Design.

FIRST Robotics

SJA’s robotics team coach, Jim Baker, described robotics as, “the only high-school team where everyone can go pro.”

St. Johnsbury Academy participates in the FIRST Robotics competition, an annual national contest in which student compete against the best young engineers in the country.

Key to the SJA team’s preparation is its access to the Academy’s Gregory N. Sweeny Applied Engineering Center. Students design many of the robot’s parts using 3-D computer-aided design software; the designs are then converted using computer-aided machining software and then the required parts are manufactured using the school’s CNC machine. Students are participating fully in designing and machining the parts and gaining expertise in all steps of the process.

Information about each year’s contest is released in early January; teams are given six weeks to build and program their robot. During those weeks, students work on their robots after school every day, and even work on Saturdays. The robots must be made of certain materials and conform to strict size, shape, and other rules.

Visit our STeM page for more information on our engineering and other STeM fields at the Academy.


The Robotics Club uses the Gregory N. Sweeny Applied Engineering Center as they design and build a robot for the FIRST Robotics competition.




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