Student mentors team at USA robotics competition

June 20, 2018

Robots in action: Perth team ‘5663 Ground Control’ at the FIRST Robotics Competition in Houston, Texas

Murdoch Computer Science and Molecular Biology student Nicholas Berryman was amid the excitement at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition in Houston, Texas this year.

The competition, which has been running since 1992, attracts international students who build robots to compete in games, including shooting basketballs into hoops, flying discs into goals, hanging onto bars and balancing on beams.

Nicholas was mentor to a group of Perth high school students in this year’s challenge to design and build five-foot-tall robots capable of picking up large cubes and placing them onto even taller platforms.

FIRST Robotics founder and inventor Dean Kamen was disappointed with the lack of kids – particularly women and minorities – who were considering a career in science and technology.

Kamen believed that participants would be responsible for significant technological advances in the future.

One of the robots built in a previous year was even featured in the 2014 film Transformers: Age of Extinction where it was seen shooting basketballs in Cade Yeager’s garage.

“One of the biggest aims of the competition is to inspire a new generation of kids to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics),” Nicholas said.

“I’m sure many of the students have gained a real appreciation for it and will go on to study it in future. I also feel we’ve all gained some universal enterprise skills like teamwork, project management and working to a specification, among many others.”

Despite the events being ‘competitive’ in nature, Nicholas says the culture promoted during the games is very much built around cooperation.

“The biggest highlight was getting to interact with teams from all over the world and learning from each other in the process. This competition lets you see hundreds of unique solutions to the same problem, which is not something you can do in many other situations,” the School of Engineering and Information Technology student said.

Following his positive experiences Nicholas has been inspired to start a new Competition Robotics Club at Murdoch University. Those interested in becoming a mentor can contact him at MurdochCRAM@gmail.com

The School of Engineering & IT’s new $2.6m state-of-the-art networking and gaming facility is due to open next month.

 

Robot champion: Nicholas Berryman's knowledge of the complex field of robotics has taken him to Texas to mentor two groups of WA high school students in an international robotics contest.

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Media contact: Sarah Thillagaratnam
Tel: 9360 2858  |  Mobile:   |  Email: sarah.t@murdoch.edu.au
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