“I guess I really enjoy all sorts of STEM things. When I get home, I spend my time with computers and programming and games… and all that” says Ajani, whose dad also does software development. In his spare time, Ajani likes programming, mostly in Java Script and Python.
For this 4.26 GPA student who earned Adobe and Microsoft certifications in his freshman year, a stint in technology seemed like a foregone conclusion. He also took honors Calculus and Physics as part of his studies, helped the Tech Team repair student laptops and participated in SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship), Student Assembly and, of course, the Robotics Club.
Ajani remembers, “In 11th grade, I started thinking maybe I want to explore robotics, because I’ve been seeing all sorts of cool automation.” So robotics it was for his internship.
It could be said that Robotics is where engineering and technology collide. So, it’s no wonder that self-described “STEM guy” Ajani Mohanty decided to take a closer look at a career in robotics during his 13-week City High mentored internship.
Ajani Mohanty about his time at City Charter High School “I don’t know how I would have survived having new teachers each year. It’s amazing! You develop an actual bond with your teachers.”
At HEBI Robotics, a technology company whose clients worldwide include NASA, Facebook, Carnegie Mellon and Cal Tech, Ericsson and others, Ajani got the opportunity to really understand this industry. Not only did he shadow various company principals to learn about the software and programming side of the industry, but also the business side, production and other disciplines. “A lot of my responsibility was learning how to assemble different parts of the little actuators they make.” Ajani adds, “I was also able to have hands-on experience with the actual developers, the people who make them, and that was probably the best part of the internship because I was able to actually be there while they were developing things.”
HEBI’s Jackie Olson, who co-mentored Ajani agrees. “To give a child the chance to have a glimpse of what we do and what it is, it might spark some interest. It’s a nice thing to do for the kids.” Ms. Olson supervised Ajani as he worked with the production team. He helped assemble parts and learned to use tools in the workshop, like a cutting press, dremel and calibration equipment. He learned to debur gears to make them smooth and ready for assembly.According to Dave Rollinson, Co-founder of HEBI who co-mentored Ajani, “We basically make robotic building blocks here. We make tools that researchers use to make custom robots and we do everything in house, both hardware and software.” Because this is such a hot growth area, HEBI gets requests for internships from all over the world and most of the interns are college age. So this City High student was very fortunate to have an opportunity to work in a world-class robotics firm.
Ajani may not have ever dreamed he would be making robot parts with his own hands, but he gain this and other benefits from the internship, like teamwork and attention to detail. According to Dr. Rollinson, “In this kind of dynamic work environment, learning how important attention to detail is to every little thing… that is even more important. Even though you are doing something that may not seem glamorous, it’s just as important. Every step of this is critical. It may not seem like it, but if those big gears don’t get deburred and a burr flakes off and jams in a gear – then boom! We have a broken actuator. There’s a stack of things and about 70 of them seem totally insignificant, but they’re all important. And understanding that in a hands-on way is hopefully what people take from the internship.”
Armed with his Robotics experience, Ajani will soon head off to college at Pitt, Carnegie-Mellon, Drexel or the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania. But the foundation for his success is right here at City Charter High School. A bit of an over-achiever, Ajani found City High the ideal place to really grow. “Here, they were adamant about propelling me forward,” he recalls. He took Robotics and every honors class he could. He just started working in 3D this semester, using cutting edge 3D printing for a project in his physics class.
Ajani also takes online extracurricular classes in computer science under the guidance of his teacher Ms. Dominguez-Murphy. And speaking of teachers, Ajani gives two thumbs up for City High’s “looping” of teachers. “I don’t know how I would have survived having new teachers each year. It’s amazing! You develop an actual bond with your teachers.”