Gar-Field High School grad Nicholas Reeves brings real-life engineering practice into the classroom
Posted on 02/24/2020
Nick Reeves

Nicholas Reeves is chief roboticist at Stilwell Technology and Robotics, LLC, and a 2011 graduate of Gar-Field High School. He and two other inventors from Stilwell recently learned that their new method of robotics collaboration has earned a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Stilwell patent was given to Reeves and fellow inventors Wayne Stilwell and Dillon Dunn. It covers a method of robotics collaboration that designates a first robot as a lead robot and coordinates its actions as the leader and to seek, configure, assign, coordinate, and track work for itself and subordinate robots.

In addition to his work in robotics, Reeves serves as a teacher assistant (TA) for The Governor’s School @ Innovation Park’s “Principles of Technology and Engineering Innovations” course. He was heavily involved in robotics as a PWCS student, beginning with his participation in the F.I.R.S.T. Lego League at Beville Middle School, in First Tech Challenge and VEX robotics at Gar-Field High, and then also VEXU at George Mason University. Now, he brings his experience and training back to the classroom, guiding students through the robotics design process.

“In 2015, I got an email from the [PWCS] robotics coordinator asking for help with a course at The Governor’s School @ Innovation Park,” said Reeves. “That course ended up being Innovations, and I continue to help today. I [also] still assist with the robotics program by volunteering at local competitions,” added Reeves.

“The innovations class where I am a TA is best thought of as an equivalent of a college level senior capstone design course,” said Reeves. “The students’ primary objective is to create a marketable solution to a problem through the creation of a product involving an automated component. What problem they solve and how they approach the solution is entirely up to each student group. We teach the students how to weight the various metrics used to analyze the problem and choose the solution that best matches their requirements.”

Reeves says he has seen support for robotics courses grow immeasurably during his time assisting at GS@IP. The greatest change has been the availability of equipment and resources for the students.

“The program has been built up to the point where we have power tools, 3-D printers, and a massive steel cabinet full of building materials,” said Reeves. “These allow the students to tackle bigger and more complex problems, while improving the quality of the final projects.”