Sharing skills with the UCSC community

Our Onboarding Process

Each Fall, Slugbotics takes in new members and introduces them to skills relevant to robotics. We offer three onboarding tracks to cover the three prominent roles used in robotics engineering: Mechanical, Electronics, and Systems. These onboarding tracks are custom-designed to teach students the skills necessary to participate in our competitions and can be learned with minimal prerequisite knowledge. This makes the hands-on experience with engineering accessible to students at UCSC, regardless of prior experience or significance.


Our Mechanical track gives students an edge in physical design and fabrication and serves as an excellent introduction to the skills necessary to build the physical components of our robots. Students in the mechanical track learn computer-aided design, or CAD, through SOLIDWORKS, before transitioning to learning physical fabrication in our lab space. Students finally combine these skills into assembling a slight robotics build for a final project. Our Mechanical track helps aid the effective programs at UCSC, given a lack of courses providing hands-on CAD and fabrication experience. Students gain the knowledge they can’t get from other classes through our team.


Our Electronics track gives students an introduction to circuit design and assembly. Students learn to source and use parts in Digikey projects before breadboarding and prototyping projects. Students also gain hands-on experience with electronics assembly with soldering, crimping, and other physical electronics methods. Then, students are introduced to PCB design using EAGLE and how to order their PCBs. Finally, students are tasked with designing and building a final circuit capable of acting as a component in a robot (such as a power converter). The Electronics track makes electronics and circuit design accessible to a broader audience than existing courses such as ECE 101. This helps even non-engineering students gain experience in tinkering with electronics.

Graphical Application Development

The Graphical Application Development (GAD) track of our onboarding gives students a broad introduction to software engineering and valuable components of software engineering for robotics. Students are first introduced to the basics of UNIX/Git, which are essential industry skills for software teams not currently taught at UCSC. Students are then walked through embedded programming on Arduino, culminating in a hands-on project to learn about embedded systems. Finally, students learn about and construct several pieces of software using Qt, Qt Networking, and OpenCV to gain experience with graphical application development and integrate graphic applications with technologies used to communicate with and direct the ROV. There are currently no classes at UCSC that teach graphical application development using traditional desktop frameworks. This gives students in the GAD track a broad, helpful set of skills relating to the construction of software and ample experience to make programming contributions to our team and others.

Autonomous Vehicles & ROS

This course introduces students to the theory and software behind controlling vehicles autonomously. Throughout the course, we will cumulatively develop the skills required to achieve safety-minded autonomous driving algorithms using Robot Operating System (ROS). Students completing this course will be positioned to implement independent algorithm development on their projects or may elect to develop the car further, competing in the Formula 1/10th competition as part of the team.

CRSN 151-C

In partnership with the S-lab, beginning in 2020, students will be able to take one of our onboarding tracks as a three-unit course, enabling students to gain college credit while learning and doing hands-on projects. This partnership has helped us improve our onboarding with extensive feedback from qualified mentors and enables us to encourage more students to gain even more experience through our onboarding program.