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Old Boy’s Robots Benefit Electronics Club

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Rob Dobson, who attended Bolton School Boys’ Division from 1973-1982, holds fond memories of his former school and all that it taught him, so much so that he has sent educational robot products, retro computers and technical expertise to pupils in the Electronics Club. 

Rob now works with Robotical, a robotics start-up based in Edinburgh, and has donated to the School two ‘Marty’ robots, small programmable walking, dancing robots – which, in building, pupils are developing their coding skills. He has also sent a couple of retro computers called RC2014s along with a memory-mapped graphics card. 

Head of Technology Mr Chris Walker said: “We are extremely grateful to Rob for sending us this equipment. Groups of Y7 and Y8 boys are working on building the robots and this will help them move forward in their algorithmic thinking and programming for practical applications skills. Jack Swires in Y10 has set himself the goal of building a PC from ‘old’ parts on a £20 budget and Nathan Donaldson, an A level Electronics student, is currently building himself a discrete-component 8-bit computer, at the level where he is making the ALU with separate half-adders and flip-flops. They will both relish the opportunity to work with the RC2014s and to do some work on an 8-bit architecture. 

“I’ve only ever met Rob as an Old Bolt visitor, but he has been so enthusiastic about our Engineering ethos and so inspirational to the boys that I truly value his support. Some of the older boys already remember him from his previous visits and from Prizegiving, so his name is already well known in the Design, Technology and Engineering department. 

"We have a modern and exciting curriculum in DTE lessons, and boys are challenged to produce creative, innovative and well-engineered solutions to real problems. We have modern equipment and we use the latest technology such as microcontrollers and 3D printers. However, the equipment that Rob has recently donated allows us to stretch the keenest students through our Young Engineers’ Club. Their excitement and enthusiasm is infectious and they literally soak up the challenges and produce the most impressive outcomes in a buzzing, ‘electric’ and very noisy environment! Thanks, Rob for your support as you really are inspiring our youngsters to become the next generation of entrepreneurial engineers.”

Rob said: “I’ve been reasonably active with a retro computer called the RC2014 and I blogged recently about an add-on board for that computer which attempts to recreate the computers that Bolton School used to have when I was a pupil (TRS-80s).  I was happy to donate a couple of the RC2014s with kit of my memory-mapped graphics card, along with the Marty robots.”

Y12 student Nathan said: “This will be a great opportunity to learn about what computers used to be like, and what computers now are based upon. I am really looking forward to making use of this equipment.”

Rob has returned to Bolton School on a number of occasions to share his experience as a technology entrepreneur with pupils. In 2017, he was guest speaker at the boys’ Summer Prizegiving, before going on to establish a prize in each Division for engineering.

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