Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Robot Wins Award for Clay Students, Iluka

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Robot Wins Award for Clay Students, Iluka

Article excerpt

For a Clay High School athlete named Robomon, being the new kid on the block is not necessarily a bad thing.

A team of budding engineers from Clay High, with the help of Iluka Resources Inc. electricians and machinists, spent six weeks building Robomon as the school's first-time entry in a 10-year-old national high school robotics competition.

They hoped their creation would do well, but figured the effort would look good on their applications for engineering school, if nothing else.

But Robomon did well.

At the southeast regional competition at the Kennedy Space Center last week, the students and remote-controlled Robomon competed against 28 other schools, many of which were making repeat trips and had more funding and corporate backers than Clay did. The Robomon All-Stars, after the event's 87 matches were complete, placed seventh, and won a prestigious engineering design award to boot.

"It was clearly the fastest robot there," said Dale Hamby, the Clay High physics teacher who got the school involved and supervised the design and building of the robot, "and the more the kids drove it, the better they got."

The design award, sponsored by Delphi Automotive Systems, typically goes to more seasoned competitors, school officials said. The Clay team won it for Robomon's innovative drive train, which gave the robot extraordinary maneuverability and speed.

Student Tom Beyerl was largely credited with designing the drive train.

"When I first heard about that award, I thought it was the one for us, but I didn't know whether we'd get it," he said. "It was a combination of an incredible essay and timing."

Beyerl and 10 other Clay High students participated in the Southeast Regional First Robotics Competition, part of a nationwide program designed to spark students' interest in science and mathematics. The event pitted remote-controlled robots against each other in a sporting event called "botball," which called for the robots to pick up 13-inch balls and put them in a goal. …

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