BART KAMEN – A TRAGIC LOSS
As most of you already know, Dr Bart Kamen, a noted doctor, researcher and dedicated FIRST volunteer, recently passed away. Many of us were privileged to meet and talk with this amazing man. There is a slideshow and tribute to Bart on the main page of the FIRST website – http://www.usfirst.org/. His obituary can be found at http://obits.nj.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?pid=160166573#fbLoggedOut
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April 9, 2012 10:36 am
Robbinsville High robotics team has a job for everyone
By Julie Stipe
For members of the Robbinsville High School robotics team “Nemesis,” building a robot is only one component of being a team member. Sure, there is a build team, which helps design, test and build a robot, but there is also a software team, a marketing team, a finance team, a website team and an animation team.
Senior and CEO of the team Eric Principato thinks this is one of the best things about the robotics team at Robbinsville High.“It’s more than just about the robot,” Principato said. “It’s more than just engineering.”
CFO Ralph Petagna agreed.“We’re pulling from all over the school; we’re a very diverse team,” Petagna said. Petagna himself is captain of Robbinsville High School’s soccer team, and he says the team includes a broad mix of students from all backgrounds and interests.
The team is especially proud of its high number of female members, which is uncommon among robotics teams. This year, Nemesis is approaching a half-and-half mix of girls and boys. “We definitely pride ourselves on being a co-ed team,” said Michelle Principato, head of Nemesis’ marketing sub-team. “It’s not just a team of guys building a robot.”
Because the team requires students with interests not just in engineering, but in marketing, finance and web design, as well, it has a place for everyone. Michelle and her sister were at first hesitant to join the team, as they were not interested in the scientific side of the team. “We’re not technically inclined at all,” she said. But they soon found that the team could use their abilities. “We each have our own niche,” she said.
Team Nemesis is structured like a business, Michelle said, and because of this it has taught her how to work with others, how to work on a time limit, and how to raise money, among other things. “It has really prepared me for the real world,” she said. “It has really helped me grow as a person.”
Not only is the team run like a business, but students in Nemesis run it themselves, with limited help from Robbinsville High School teacher and adviser Joy Wolfe, as well as other teachers, parents and mentors. “Our team is great,” Wolfe said. “They’re calling the shots.”
Students on the team are responsible for all facets of running it, including organizing trips to competitions. “The planning is a lot,” said Petagna. “But when it comes together, it’s a really great time.”
Nemesis is surely doing something right, because this year – the fifth year for the team – led to an incredibly successful and eventful competition season. Most impressive, the team recently won the Chairman’s Award at the Lenape District competition, the most prestigious award given at FIRST competitions. The team also won an award for its website at the same competition.
FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a not-for-profit organization that aims to inspire youth and promote interest in science and technology. FIRST sponsors regional and district robotics competitions and championships for which teams across the United States and in other countries spend hundreds of hours building robots.
FIRST’s competitions somewhat resemble a sports game. They involve creating teams of robots that play against each other in a game designed by FIRST. This year, the game involved shooting basketball-like foam balls into hoops of different heights (getting the ball into a higher hoop garnered more points). In mid-March, the team packed up its robot and traveled to Montreal to participate in the Montreal regional competition.
There, it also won an award, this time taking first place in the competition after playing 11 qualification matches. The win means Nemesis is qualified to compete in the FIRST Championship in St. Louis April 26 to 28. In Montreal, the team also earned its second award for entrepreneurship this season.
“It’s been a great year,” said JP Ranu, the second CFO for the team.
Nemesis currently has a large number of seniors, who have been with the team for multiple seasons, and this, Ranu believes, is why the team has done so well this year. “We’ve learned from each other,” he said. “We know each other.”
On a good team, he said, each member knows each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and understands where he or she best fits in the team. “Everyone knows their part,” Ranu said.
Matthew Schwartz, the build team’s chief technology officer, said he has always been interested in science and technology, and joined the team for the chance to work on a robot, but soon realized that there is more to Nemesis than building a robot.
“I’ve learned so much in technology and also leadership,” he said. “It’s been an amazing experience.”
Jim Judd from Lockheed Martin is presented with a special “Volunteer of the Year” award at the MAR FRC District event at Lenape/Seneca HS. Donald Bowers, FIRST Regional Director, made the presentation to Jim to acknowledge his years of extraordinary volunteer service to FIRST and to FIRST teams in our region.
November 8, 2011
Betsy Torg Deidra Lyngard
Director of Media Relations Director of Communications/WG
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Springside Chestnut Hill Academy
215-247-7200, ext 7131 215-247-4700, ext 1112
SCH Academy Receives $500,000 Gift for Engineering and Robotics
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy has received $500,000 from an anonymous donor in support of the school’s new Engineering and Robotics Department. The gift supports a new endowment called The Gizmo Fund, which will fund the purchase, maintenance, repair, and replacement of the equipment and technology used by engineering and robotics students throughout the school. The gift helps assure the sustainability of a young but rapidly growing signature program now serving all grade levels.
“The Engineering and Robotics Department is extremely grateful to the creators of The Gizmo Fund,” says department chair Peter Randall. “They have provided for the continued growth and enhancement of this vanguard, project-based learning program by enabling us to purchase the necessary materials and tools that will keep us current in a field where technologies advance rapidly,” explains Randall.
The Engineering and Robotics program allows students to explore their passions for design and building challenges that address complex, real-world problems. Two current student projects include a high-altitude balloon-launched glider that will gather atmospheric data for physics classes from over 100,000 feet and then fly itself home and a four-propeller self-stabilizing mini-helicopter with attached camera to video the school’s athletic competitions from the air. “Without the resources from The Gizmo Fund, our students wouldn’t have the state-of-the-art micro-chip technology and other materials necessary to build devices like the glider or quad copter,” Randall says.
The SCH Academy Engineering and Robotics Department grew out of a small after-school robotics activity started nine years ago. “The popularity of the program has grown exponentially as students have seen the creative real-world problem solving they can do through this program,” explains Randall. “Today, over one hundred kids are involved in our program, from 2nd grade to 12th grade, and we’re still growing.”
The school’s Upper School Vulcan Robotics Team 1218, is internationally recognized, having placed second and third in the 2004 and 2009 FIRST World Championships. Over the past two years, the team has won five design awards, including the General Motors Industrial Design Award. Students design and engineer in the school’s 1,600-square-foot dedicated lab and workspace housing state-of-the-art machinery, including a CNC milling machine that enables them to produce their own custom-made materials.