Sting Like a Bee, A RoboBee That Is

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Sting Like a Bee, A RoboBee That Is

3/19/2012

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By Nate Atwell

Thursday March 8th a former high school acquaintance visited the Lexington Park apartment of Daniel Logan, only to find that he had already left for the weekend. Mr. Logan a Virginia Tech Graduate and employee of NAVAIR had departed that morning, along with a group of high school students, teachers and other mentors for what some say equates to a super-bowl of the mind. The past eight years Daniel has in one way or another been a part of First robotics Team 836. The group calls itself the RoboBees.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization founded by Dean Kamen in 1989 with the goal of inspiring students to explore science and technology career fields. The Organization host numerous competitions at many age and grade levels in which student made robots face off. First Robots is the most senior division, and this is where we find Daniel Logan.

Starting off as a student in his sophomore year of high school, graduating and later majoring in computer engineering and now working for NAVAIR, while volunteering as a mentor, Daniel admits that he is the perfect example of the Stem Cycle. A self-perpetuating Ouroboros, in which teachers and citizens in science, and technology career fields, help students learn about the aforementioned arenas, these students explore the disciplines further in college and in their career, and later volunteer as adults to inspire students to do the same.

“It has been such an impact on me I want to see it happen to someone else” Sarah José Snellings, a senior at Chopticon High School, describing her desire to become a mentor for FIRST in the future. Sarah has made a home out of the hive, as many students before her have. “It will change your life, I know it has mine” Daniel mentioned a week later “I would not be where I am if I had not been involved with FIRST in high school”

“It added a lot to my high school experience” Sangeeta Sankar added in a separate interview. Sangeeta is on the last leg of the first phase of her STEM cycle, graduating this May, the 17 year old senior at Leonardtown High School and the Business Co-lead of the RoboBees, plans to major in Bio-engineering. “First Robotics inspired me to do engineering” She later described how much fun it is to solve problems. The future bio-engineer is already accepted to an honors college. Sangeeta first become involved in the RoboBees after numerous invites from friends like the aforementioned Sarah Jose Snellings. Peer Pressure being used to bring people into engineering is counterintuitive to some, but according to FIRST’s goal of changing the culture, this is exactly how it should be and Neal Bascomb, author of The New Cool, how it will be.

Saturday March 10th Sarah, whose introduction to the team came through their outreach at the County Fair, stands before judges giving a presentation about the RoboBees in the Baltimore Convention Center. After the presentation was over, the entirety of 836 surprised Sarah and the other presentation givers in show of Team spirit, climbing up the elevator and cheering on the Program Management sub-team. “They told us that the team won during the presentation, and then they showed up” Sarah emotionally recalled.

The RoboBees made it all the way to quarter finals, before being knocked out. “We were disappointed of course, but then we started cheering for those still in the competition, we started helping teams with their robots.” Daniel Logan then defined two FIRST concepts, Gracious Professionalism and Cooperation, both coming from the belief that opponents can learn and help each other. “Especially in politics… The goal is to put the other guy down” Mr. Logan would go on, explaining that such is not the case with RoboBees or First.

Sitting in the bleachers, after being knocked out of the competition the RoboBees sit and wait as awards are given out. Erik Wood, a mentor for the team, also a former student member of FIRST, was nervous; some members paced back and forth, others held their heads in their hands. Award after award goes by, there is only one left, the most prestigious award, The Chairmen’s award.

Fast Forward, Southern Maryland. Charlotte Grace, unable to make the Chesapeake Regionals, screams in joy after viewing a post on a social network, the Robobees won the Chairman’s award. Wood said. “No other team in Maryland has ever won the award twice and the Chesapeake regional has not awarded it to the same team twice since it began 10 years ago.” “We were screaming and crying, there was a lot of hugging” Daniel mentioned.

Due to the win, team 836 will be buzzing into the next round of competitions, and doing a wave of fundraising. The nearest will be on the 24th at Best Buy. Two robots will be on display. Thebaynet.com encourages its readers to attend. The team will not be soliciting during this event. Please keep following First Robotics and check back with The BayNet for more information on our team.



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