SMHS Robotics Unveils Most Complex Robot Yet

The original Post: http://sanmarino.patch.com/groups/schools/p/san-marino-high-school-smhs-titanium-robotics-first-u3b73beae97

The Titanium Robotics Team at San Marino High School unveiled their newest competition robot Monday night.

After six weeks of tireless planning and building, the San Marino High School Titanium Robotics team has made its 2012 robot that will battle against robots from 60 other teams in an international competition in San Diego next month.

See video of the robot in action here.

“This is the most ambitious, complex robot we’ve built in nine years,” said faculty advisor Scott Barton to students and parents at an unveiling Monday.

Students control the robot, named TI-22 (the symbol and atomic number for Titanium), through a Microsoft Kinect and showed off its skills shooting hoops Monday.

Making the Robot

Six weeks ago the SMHS team watched a video that all competing robotics teams watch about this year’s competition and then get to work. This year’s competition is titled Rebound Rumble and involves getting a robot to shoot balls into hoops, though it’s more complicated as the Rebound Rumble video attached to this article shows.

“The number of mechanisms we designed is far more,” said Barton. “Every year we build it better.”

Business President Saketh Kasibatla, a senior in his fourth year on the robotics team, told Patch he thought Monday’s robot unveiling and demonstration went pretty well, though there were a couple of snags.

“Motor power was a concern since we have seven or so [motors] and we have always had one or two,” said Kasibatla. “We had to figure out how to manage the power.”

Kasibatla said his time on SMHS Robotics has been a lot of fun and he plans on majoring in computer science and programming in college and hopefully working in robotics or artificial intelligence.

Mentors and Support

Along with financial support from a Boeing grant, Jet Propulsion Laboratories, the PTSA and parents, the team gets help from volunteer advisors.

San Marino resident Robert French, a team advisor who works at Boeing, said he is mentoring the team for a second year so he can help build the future generation of people that will be in his shoes.

“We do a full business plan and a full marketing plan,” said Barton. “It’s really more like a small business.”

“They come in with almost no knowledge. Some of them don’t know what a screwdriver is, [but then] “they make their own parts out of aluminum and start making their own decisions.”

San Marino Unified School District Board of Education member Dr. Jeng Yen started the Robotics team at SMHS nine years ago when he was at the Chinese Club, even though he didn’t have a child in high school at the time.

“Our kids have too much time getting knowledge from books but this is a program to learn math and management of technology through building, said Yen. “You’re learning through your hands.”

Yen said when the team started it was a handful of kids in a garage but today the team has a classroom and mentors from Boeing and JPL.

Junior Audrey Chu, who is in her third year on the robotics team and handles communications like press releases, said almost 80 kids sign up for robotics but a good 15 are regularly committed.

“It’s such a mature project,” said parent Gail Howland, whose son Liam is a junior and historian for the team. “Every year they get more adept and organized. It’s mature responsibility-building. It’s terrific for the community and the kids.”

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