From engineering and programming, to collaboration and problem-solving, the skills that students glean through participation in our robotics program are valuable, whether or not students go on to pursue STEM careers.

"My time in the DA robotics program was when I truly discovered my passion for engineering. This transformative experience not only offered me an opportunity to discover a love for robotics but helped me develop skills that led to success both in college and in the workplace."

Rohan Patel '17, Georgia Tech Aerospace Engineering Student


A state-of-the-art fabrication lab within the new Upper School STEM & Humanities Center is home to our robotics classes and extracurricular FIRST Robotics Competition team. The lab includes a ShopBot PSAlpha for cutting custom-designed parts from aluminum, wood, plastics and other materials, as well as tools like a lathe, drill press and mitre saws for fabricating custom machines. 


In the introductory robotics course, students are introduced to theoretical and practical engineering and programming skills, while preparing for the challenge of interscholastic competition. Students study computer programming and principles of mechanical engineering and design artificial intelligence behaviors, and build basic robots.

In the advanced course, students learn more about electrical materials, electric circuits, electromagnetism, computer science and mechanics. Students further their application of skills and knowledge learned in physics, math, and computer science courses, while gaining an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of engineering and technology as well as possible STEM career paths. Through collaborative group projects, students develop their skills of applying creativity and knowledge to develop more complex solutions to socially relevant problems.

FIRST Robotics Competition Team

Each year, students competing with our extracurricular FIRST Robotics Competition team (DARC SIDE, or Durham Academy Robotics Club: Students in Design and Engineering) build and program an industrial-size robot within the span of an intense six-week build period. The team then typically competes in two district competitions, with an opportunity to qualify to also compete at the state and international levels.

In its mere three years of existence, the DARC SIDE has achieved remarkable success, including winning the Asheville district competition, placing as a finalist at the state championship and winning the Quality and Innovation in Control awards. The team has twice earned berths to compete in the World Championships in Houston; in 2018, the team placed 11th in its division and was named eighth alliance captain.