Cavalier Feature: Do The Robot
Written by Marissa Carpenter, Director of Marketing & Enrollment
I’ve only ever heard about the days when a single computer took up an entire room. But I do remember when computers became classroom tools. That ubiquitous black and green screen glowed with pixelated games, as we attempted to learn keyboarding and mathematics in a tiny, overheated portable building that functioned as both a computer lab and a resource room. I especially remember the day at the newly-built and furnished computer lab (only for computers!) when my friend told me about Google, and how much better of an online search engine it was than any others. I was just twelve years old.
As time marched on, so did technology. We now have a way to communicate via instant video. We can order almost anything online and have it shipped to us in two days, sometimes for free. We are capable of talking at our phones, having our phones translate it into text, and send it to the desired recipient, all at the touch of a single button and a few voice commands. And now? There are talks of solar panel roofs. Of self-driving cars. Of a whole host of things that may not even seem particularly useful (until we turn the corner into “how did I ever live without this?”) Things that seem to be invented more quickly than we can find uses for them–except when it comes to societal benefit. That’s where the FIREBOT comes in.
This summer, instead of stepping away from academia and diving into today’s technology of emojis and excess, two of CVC’s high schoolers, Micky George and Grant te Velde, attended the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) for Engineering & Technology in Boston, Massachusetts, where their group was awarded the top prize for the Capstone Project competition. Their project and presentation of FIREBOT, a firefighting robot, prompted the head of the Envision program (and a former firefighter, interestingly enough) to encourage Micky and Grant’s group to find a way to patent the idea, noting that it could prevent up to 85% of household fires.
FIREBOT, which was crafted on a $30 budget, was composed of a weed sprayer, duct tape and a lot of creativity—essentially a fire extinguisher on wheels. Micky noted that it took them about four hours to build, de-bug and complete the robot, and mentioned that his group chose to create something that would be beneficial to society, even though the project parameters didn’t specify that requirement.
During the NYLF for Engineering & Technology, the two rising CVC seniors had the opportunity to get a taste of college life by living in the dorms at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, (alma mater of CVC alum and 2010 Salutatorian Aaron Crenshaw) hear from a variety of modern inventors and engineering professors, and take part in speaking activities and simulated college lectures. According to the Envision Experience webpage for the NYLF, the program highlights included hands-on curriculum, speaking events which have included guest speakers from MIT, Stanford, and Harvard, onsite experiences, and a Capstone Project. The Capstone Project is where Micky, Grant and their group stood out to program organizers, and ultimately won the competition, which was against over 150 other students.
Both Micky and Grant were nominated to attend NYLF by CVC’s College and Career Counselor, Lori Reeves. “I am thankful Michael and Grant attended the National Youth Leadership Forum for Engineering and Technology,” said Reeves. “Programs such as these allow students to continue to not only expand their learning opportunities, but also to expand their opportunities to be an example for Christ in a setting outside their comfort zone.”
Micky’s mother, Katie George, said that just the nomination of her son was a huge honor and she is astounded by the boys’ group’s accomplishments while they were in Boston. She also noted that having teachers at CVC like Steve Gann was integral to sparking the boys’ interest in engineering and robotics.
The two students completed considerable coursework at CVC in the area of robotics and engineering, thanks to classes on micro-controllers, taught by Steve Gann. “When it comes to students like Micky and Grant, all a teacher needs to do is give them a direction and a tiny bit of training to get started and they will take it from there,” said Gann, who also teaches chemistry at Central Valley Christian High School. “Those two are masters of learning on the go. They are also willing to try and fail a few dozen times before they get it right which is a very important skill. What CVC did was provide a [micro-controllers] class where students can do the aforementioned. It’s important to have that kind of class somewhere in the schedule, whether it’s technology-related or not.”
In addition to a plaque awarded for winning the capstone project, both Micky and Grant came home from Boston with a few more connections and contacts, a brief college experience and more solidified skills in engineering, which they hope will help them in their future collegiate endeavors.