Winning high school robotics team aided by ASU engineering expertise

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Winning high school robotics team aided by ASU engineering expertise

May 12, 2008

Carl Hayden High School’s Falcon Robotics team celebrated its recent victory in an international robotics competition at a May 7 event hosted by Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

In April, the Phoenix high school team bested 350 other high school robotics teams from 26 countries in taking the first-place prize in the competition in Atlanta.

Many of the Falcon team’s 42 members came to the celebration at ASU for a demonstration of computer-game development, an exchange of ideas with ASU robotics experts, a congratulatory presentation by school of engineering Dean Deirdre Meldrum and Executive Dean Paul Johnson, a dinner and a tour of the engineering school’s robotics facilities.

The engineering school has played a role in the education of the Falcon team through its outreach efforts to spark interest in science, engineering and technology among K-12 students.

With support of a U.S. Department of Education grant, faculty members Wei-Tek Tsai, Gary Bitter, Yinong Chen, James Collofello and Yann-Hang Lee have been developing high school computing curriculum since 2006. Robotics programming has been used to teach computing concepts, Chen explains.

With funding from a Science Foundation Arizona grant, Chen taught a robotics-based computing class to a group of Arizona high school teachers in 2007. Two of the teachers, Steu Mann and Eira Rodriguez, were from Carl Hayden High School.

That led Chen to meet Carl Hayden High School teacher Faridodon Lajvardi and Allan Cameron, the founders of the Falcon Robotics team. They are now working together, using the attraction of robotics to interest students in all aspects of engineering.

They are also working with Intel Corporation to provide scholarships for two of the Falcon Robotics team’s programmers to attend the engineering school’s Summer Robotics Camp in June and July.

The camp experience “will prepare [the students] to improve the programming of their robots for future competitions,” Chen says.

“We are celebrating not just our success in robot building,” Cameron says. “We are celebrating how our students have been inspired and how they are inspiring others about the fun of engineering.”

Falcon team members have been giving demonstrations of their robotics work to schoolchildren and community groups.

“We are influencing the culture of our neighborhoods, the state and the country,” Cameron says. “Our robotics team has become a model for those who want to positively affect their world.”

Winning the international robotics competition was “a thrilling accomplishment,” he says, “but broadening our culture’s appreciation of science, technology, engineering and math is the goal we are really striving for, and the celebration of our victory by ASU’s engineering school is a great encouragement to us.”

The involvement of ASU’s engineering school faculty “has raised the expectations, ambitions and academic achievement levels of students,” he says. “We feel like ASU is our university, and we look forward to more collaboration. I think there are quite a few future ASU Sun Devils at Carl Hayden High School who will be studying in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.”

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Fulton Schools

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