Robo battle: Wiesbaden RoboWarriors head to national competition
March 5, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany - Members of Wiesbaden High School's RoboWarriors team spent more than 4,000 hours building the "Frau POW 4.0" robot in six weeks, and they handled the robot's last challenge with grace.
That challenge was how to get nearly 400 pounds of robot, shipping crate and tools down the stairs and onto the curb so Federal Express could pick it up.
The team did it the smart way -- by taking down the crate in halves and the robot separately.
Frank Pendzich, the team advisor and the school's engineering and technology instructor, worked with six team members to pack up the robot Feb. 23. From Wiesbaden, the robot will travel to Orlando, Fla. to compete in the FIRST robotics competition from March 8-10.
The team, like all of the 2,300 teams expected to participate this year, had only six weeks to build a robot that will play a game called "Rebound Rumble," which is a "twisted version of basketball," said Pendzich.
Casey Mann, the team's vice president and a RoboWarrior for all three years of her time in high school, said that for the past six weeks, Pendzich and the 17 team members who are going to the competition have worked on the robot every day after school and on the weekends.
Pendzich has worked so hard that the team has nominated him for the Woodie Flowers Award, which is for mentors who have inspired teams, Mann said. "He's just so hard working," she said. "I drive to be like him, to be that committed. He will definitely be one of my role models in life."
Inventor Dean Kamen, most widely known for creating the Segway Personal Transporter, founded the FIRST organization in 1989 as a way to promote science and technology in schools.
It is based in Manchester, N.H. Woodie Flowers, emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is also a founder.
Kevin Marshall, a senior who joined the team this year, said he decided to join the RoboWarriors because he enjoys computer programming, and he put his skills to work programming the robot.
"It is a hobby of mine," Marshall said. "It gives me stuff to think about in my free time."
At the competition, Marshall said he will be part of the team that drives the robot. Getting the robot over a series of three ramps will probably be the biggest challenge, he said.
Eli Kraft, a junior who also joined the team for the first time this year, said he became a RoboWarrior because he plans to be an engineer and likes to build. At the competition, he will be a member of the pit crew, he said.
Although the robot is on its way to the competition, the team will continue to work, Pendzich said. They built a prototype robot to practice with until they leave for the competition. This is the fifth year Wiesbaden has competed in the competition.
To learn more about FIRST, visit www.usfirst.org.