Preuss School Students Build
Functioning Robot To Compete
In High School Multinational Contest

March 14, 2007

By Pat JaCoby

Mentor Daniel Rupert teaches 812 member, Catalina Santos, how to weld the robot frame together.

Picture a gigantic silver robotic bat that runs around grabbing plastic pool toys, then morphs into a platform that other robots can utilize, and you have the entry by UCSD’s Preuss School in the FIRST robotics regional competition to be held in San Diego March 22-24.

While robots are often classified as the enemy in science fiction, to these enterprising Preuss School students--who have dubbed themselves as “Team 812, the Midnight Mechanics”--they are an exciting amalgam of science, math, technology and long hours.

The 30-member Preuss School “Team 812” had six weeks to design and build a robot that could meet the requirements established by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in this year’s competition. Daniel Rupert, Preuss School team advisor, said this involved manipulating swimming pool inner tubes and hanging them on a large swinging rack. “It was quite a challenge to design and build a robot in the allotted six weeks,” Rupert said, “and the students worked many nights and weekends to pull it off.”

“Around the last week of most of our building seasons,” says senior member Trang Dinh, “we were all staying until midnight, frantically drilling holes and practically gluing on robot components. This year we had a very good building pace.”

FIRST robotics competition is a unique varsity sport of the mind that engages high schoolers in math and science by challenging them to build robots that can solve a common problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard “kit of parts” and a common set of rules. Teams build robots from the parts and enter them in a series of competitions designed by Dean Kamen and a committee of engineers and other professionals.

A Preuss School entry has won regional or national awards the past three years.

Media Contact: Pat JaCoby, 858-534-7404

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