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Robots visit Lancer Nation

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The military robot made its way down the 300’s hallway and into the band room where the symphonic band was playing Thursday, December 14.  All students and teachers stopped to look, wondering why a robot was in school. The robot put on a show by raising and lowering its arm as it delivered a water bottle to various students. Then as the robot was leaving, it crashed into the rolling whiteboard outside the band room and fell on its side.  

After surrounding students righted “Packbot,” the robot traveled back to the engineering classroom where Matt Schickler of Endeavor Robotics was about to speak to Mr. Konieczny’s engineering classes about the robots Packbot and FirstLook.

Students were given a chance to inspect FirstLook and drive Packbot before sitting for a presentation of what goes into making these robots. With the way the world is rapidly expanding into the robotic age, Konieczny brought Schickler in order to show how many different engineers work with robots and how they’re all necessary.

“[Schickler] showed how there’s lots of indirect paths to get to a pretty cool place as an engineer,” Konieczny said. “He’s not the stereotypical MIT grad in order to be building state of the art robots.”

Students of the H period Digital Electronics class crowded around a tablet, a seemingly low-tech device used to control this machine worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Students took turns driving the robot up and down the hallway visiting teachers and classes.

See the robot in action:

“It was fun but we also saw a demonstration as to why I’m not the driver on the robotics team,” junior Alyssa Jarvis said. Jarvis was the student to crash Packbot into the whiteboard outside of the band room.

The feature causing the most uproar, with not only to the engineering students but those the robot visited as well, was the microphone.

“I didn’t know what was going on but it was cool. I had no idea how it was talking,” junior Parker MacIntyre of the H period symphonic band said after the robot stopped by.

The robots presented by Schickler are primarily used by the military. FirstLook can be thrown through windows and Packbot can dispose of bombs and detect dangerous substances. Due to a lack of bombs or dangerous chemicals lying around, however, the students were content to run over their feet and move water bottles with Packbot, which weighs only 30 to 40 lbs.

“It was interesting to see the real life applications of the technology we have been learning aboutespecially being on the robotics team,” junior Derik Pignone said. “It opens your eyes a little bit, reminding you that once high school is over there are a lot of opportunities in the STEM field for us to explore.”

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