On a frigid February day in Pearl, Mississippi, a group of 15- and 16-year-old high school students braved the 30-degree cold to set up shop in front of the local RadioShack. Their goal—to show off the 18-inch crate-stacking, racquet ball-grabbing robot they designed and built together. Despite the less than ideal weather, the team endured and each took their turn manning the remote control that breathed life into their conglomeration of steel, servo motors and LEGOs. Every RadioShack customer who stopped by that day was treated to the impressive display of amateur engineering. Many a crate was stacked; many a racquetball collected.
These young men and women comprise a robotics team dubbed Techno Warriors Advanced, one of two teams supported and managed by Central Mississippi Robotics. CMR is an organization that promotes science, technology, engineering and math to youth in the community through participation in sports-style robot-building competitions.
Led by coach Jeff Lanum, the Techno Warriors Advanced team consists of Harrison Lanum (16), Jacob Mason (16), Jared Blackburn (17), Niah Long (15) and Timothy Clearman (15). Starting in August of last year, the team began preparing for this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship. To make it to the World Championship in St. Louis, the team first needed to win the Georgia State Championship. The contest required teams to design a robot that could stack crates and pick up and place balls into those crates. In these competitions, each stacked crate and stored ball is worth a specific number of points and teams pit their bots against each other in a specially designed playing area. The bot with the most points advances to the next round of the tournament. After an impressive beginning of their day at the Georgia Championship, the Techno Warriors Advanced robot eventually burnt a drive motor, putting a serious damper on its ability to score. Despite the disappointing sixth-place finish, the team raked in a handful of awards in Georgia and they’re looking forward to the next season of the FIRST Tech Challenge.
Even if it didn’t win them a state championship, the Techno Warriors Advanced robot is a very impressive feat of engineering. It features a complex interplay of steel parts, servo motors, gears, conveyor systems and even a few LEGO Technic pieces for good measure. The complexity of their vision is well beyond the average 15 year old. If you weren’t one of the lucky few who happened to come into the Pearl, Mississippi, RadioShack that fateful February afternoon, we encourage you to take a look at all the hard work they’ve put into making their robot over the past year. The team’s entire engineering notebook can be viewed here. This group of kids is truly something special. RadioShack is honored to have provided a forum for them to show their skills and we wish them the best of luck next season.