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April 11, 2014

Highland robotics team wins innovation award

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Highland School’s Team RoboHawk
Highland School’s Team RoboHawk received the “Innovation in Control” award at this year’s Chesapeake Regional FIRST Robotics competition last weekend at the University of Maryland.

Sponsored by Rockwell Automation, the award celebrates an innovative control system or application of control components – electrical, mechanical or software – to provide unique machine functions. Team RoboHawk, comprised of students in grades 8-12, earned the honor for its innovative use of a Raspberry Pi, a secondary computer, to run the robot’s distance finding vision system. The team flawlessly created a communication interface between the Raspberry Pi and the main computer and successfully used two programming languages, Java and Python, on it robot. The judges also praised Team RoboHawk for its use of parallel processing software to streamline robot operations.

In its fifth season of competition, Team RoboHawk is one of the smaller squads in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). It is also one of few private schools in the program.

Team RoboHawk has many similarities to a small technology firm with a build team, an electrical team, a programming team and a business team. While student-driven, each team component gets support from volunteer mentors with professional experience and graduate level degrees in business and marketing, computer programming and mechanical, electrical, robotic and aerospace engineering.

In just six weeks each season, team members design, build and program a robot that can meet a predetermined challenge.

This year’s “Aerial Assault” competition required the team to build and program a robot that could shoot a ball over a 6-foot truss, pass the ball to and from its randomly selected “alliance” robot teammates, and ultimately shoot into a target 7 feet off the ground, all while defending against an opposing 3-robot alliance’s efforts.

Of 54 teams competing from across the U.S. and Canada, Team Robohawk finished 19th overall in the on-field competition.

Each year Team Robohawk must raise funds and operate within a limited budget, funded in part by sponsors. This season’s business team applied for and received a grant from Aerojet Rocketdyne to fund two programming computers. These programming computers were the first for the team. Prior to receiving Aerojet Rocketdyne’s grant, programming team members used their own computers.

All team members learn problem solving skills, teamwork and sportsmanship. They strive to demonstrate “gracious cooperation” throughout the competition.

For more information about Highland School’s FIRST robotics team please contact Cassin Bertke at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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Visiting10165MD · April 12, 2014 at 2:11 pm
"All team members learn problem solving skills, teamwork and sportsmanship. They strive to demonstrate “gracious cooperation” throughout the competition." --Can we teach these skills to
our government and non-government (private industry)?
I hope so, if they do not know how to compete professionally,
then these young people are "way ahead" of the curve!

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