As technology continues to evolve in a rapidly-changing digital age, there has been more emphasis placed on the need for technically-minded individuals. Students are not only flocking to many STEM majors, but also to university programs that complement hands-on learning.

For several Louisiana State University of Alexandria students, the Robotics Team provides the desired opportunity to expand their knowledge of technology while also sharpening other skill sets like problem-solving, communication, and team building.

For mathematics major, Damarcus (Lee) James, the experience has been extremely enlightening.

“You have no idea what you are doing when you start. You get a manual on how to do it, and then you just begin. It becomes continuous trial and error and troubleshooting,” said James.

The sophomore was recruited by the Robotics Team sponsor and mathematics instructor, Dr. Tanya Lueder.

“Dr. Lueder was the one that got me into it, and I am so thankful she did. I love that it has the engineering aspect. I enjoy it because it is what I am interested in; it is a larger form of LEGO pieces,” he said.

Once James was hooked, he decided to recruit his roommate, Desmond Sampson.

Sampson, a junior communications major at LSUA, decided that even though it wasn’t his field of study, he would give it a shot.

“Seeing how much Lee enjoyed it, I thought I might as well show up and try. Even though I didn’t know anything at first, it has been awesome learning the process. It also gives me more motivation to keep attending and get better,” said Sampson.

Lee and Desmond work to build the structure of the robot, but when sophomore Jorian Dodd takes over, the robot comes to life, literally.

“When I get it, it is just a robot. I have to hook it up to the computer and program it to begin moving,” said Dodd.

The second year Robotics Team member and computer science major aspires to be an engineer. While watching some clips of robotics competitions in Dr. Lueder’s trigonometry class, he immediately knew that robotics would be something he would enjoy.

“I knew participating with the Team would be good for me. I can see if helping in the future from working in a team to building and programming something. These are definitely transferable skills for engineering,” he said.

Not only are these students enjoying their involvement with the Robotics Team, but they are working to instill the excitement in the younger generation.

Under the leadership of Dr. Lueder and multiple Rapides Parish schools, multiple robotics competitions have been held on the LSUA campus. Members of the LSUA Robotics Team help host and assist the elementary and secondary students during the tournaments.

“It is fun to watch the younger students compete and see how they build. It always makes me happy seeing how much fun they have; it brings a smile to my face,” said Sampson.

Several competitions are scheduled for the remainder of the semester, all to be hosted on the LSUA campus. For more information, contact Dr. Tanya Lueder at

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