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 main 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 hands-on experience with engineering and making accessible to students at UCSC, regardless of prior experience or major.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, certain aspects of the onboarding process have had to shift towards remote instruction. Nevertheless, each student will be still given as much of an opportunity to learn as we can provide given these current issues. This page details our standard onboarding process, and so certain aspects such as in-person mechanical and electrical fabrication are not currently offered. We look forward to resuming our in-person training on these skills when it becomes safe to do so.


Our Mechanical track gives students an edge with 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 small robotics build for a final project.

Our Mechanical track helps to aid the major programs at UCSC, given a lack of courses providing hands-on CAD and fabrication experience. Students gain experience they can’t get from other courses through our team.

Note: Currently, due to the ongoing pandemic and safety closures, we are currently focusing the curriculum on CAD design. Physical fabrication and the final project are currently not offered. We look forward to resuming these trainings and final projects when it is safe to do so.


Our Electronics track gives students an introduction to circuit design and assembly. Students learn how to source and use parts in projects using Digikey, 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, as well as 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 is designed to make electronics and circuit design accessible to a wider audience than existing courses such as ECE 101. This helps even non-engineering students gain experience in tinkering with electronics.

Note: Currently, due to the ongoing pandemic and safety closures, we are currently focusing the curriculum on PCB design in EAGLE. Breadboarding, soldering/crimping, and the final project are currently not offered. We look forward to resuming these trainings when it is safe to do so.


The Systems track of our onboarding gives students a broad introduction to software engineering, as well as useful 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, in order to gain experience with graphical application development, as well as integrating graphical applications with technologies used to communicate with and direct the ROV.

There are currently no classes at UCSC which teach graphical application development using traditional desktop frameworks, and this gives students in the Systems track a broad, useful set of skills relating to the construction of software, as well as ample experience to make programming contributions to our team and others.

Note: Currently, due to the ongoing pandemic and safety closures, we are not offering the Arduino project. We look forward to resuming this when it is safe to do so.

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 with 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.