Local

June 21, 2012

Zombots bring robots to life at USACE Coyote Dam

Story and photo by JC Delgadillo

Anthony Kee, a member of the Vallejo High School robotics team in California, The Zombots, holds the robot he and fellow teammates built.

LAKE MENDOCINO, Calif. — In 2005, the National Academies published a report demanding more investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education in America. “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” warned that for the United States to remain alive and kicking in a global economy, the nation’s leaders, both public and private, must make STEM-education a priority.

To that end, determined educators like Beth Traub and Jack Gillespie are inspiring the next generation of innovators through their love of math, robotics and zombies.

Traub and Gillespie are the teacher-mentors of the Vallejo High School robotics team named The Zombots.

“We got that name because are first major sponsor owns a funeral home,” explained Jack Gillespie, who happens to be married to Lyn Gillespie, the chief of Engineering and Technical Services Division at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers San Francisco District. No special math or science aptitude is required of students to join The Zombots, just insanity and commitment to the team, quips Gillespie.

But it’s not the appeal of zombies rampant in today’s popular culture that seems to be attracting teens to the club. Teens like Stephanie Bond, a senior who plans to continue participating in The Zombots throughout her final year in high school despite the tremendous time commitment. Bond and other students have dedicated about 300 hours each to The Zombots this semester alone.

“We warn people, don’t join. You’ll sign away your soul in blood on paper to the teachers. You’ll have no life afterward. You’re done, don’t do it,” she said. “But it’s totally worth it.”

Traub explains that the team has formed strong bonds over the shared hours of joy and misery building robots and all the business that goes along with supporting the team including website development, seeking sponsors and competing in robotics competitions.

The team has developed several robots including one called Charles, named after the 1980’s sitcom Charles in Charge. Just two days into summer vacation, a group of twenty Zombots members deployed Charles at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coyote Dam. The Coyote Dam project was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944 and completed in 1958 for purposes of flood risk reduction, water supply, recreation and stream flow regulation. The six million cubic yard dam is compacted earth fill with an impervious core and measures 160 feet high and 3,500 feet long.

The goal was to see if Charles could inspect a toe drain on the Coyote Dam to assess the conditions of the pipe, essentially checking for any degradation, explained Derrick Dunlap, San Francisco District’s Operations & Readiness Division deputy.

Charles looks more like a rover than C-3PO and operates a bit like a remote-controlled video borescope used for inspections. The robot weighs about 7 pounds and has a 1/8 thick polycarbonate frame with rugged polypropylene treads on its wheels. Charles is powered by a 7.2 volt battery and has a camera mounted on it that transmits images to a nearby computer.

“We want a device that can crawl up the pipe and provide some data about conditions such as rust, dents or cracks,” Dunlap said. “So we were open to seeing what the kids’ robot could do.”

The students placed the robot in the pipe, which is at an angle, and began directing it upward through the dark and mucky space. Charles trudged his way up several feet, but after a few starts and stops, students determined that Charles couldn’t get enough traction to move upward significantly due to a large amount of sludge in the pipe the robot’s treads were not prepared for. Some students appeared dejected, but most offered up ideas for solutions to the traction problem such as adding sharp-edged zip ties to the treads or making the robot heavier.

Mike Dillabough, chief of the San Francisco District’s Operations & Readiness Division, said he liked what he was seeing and hearing and invited The Zombots team to return to Coyote Dam in August after some modifications are made to the robot.

As reports urge the need for increased STEM-education in America, robotics team’s like The Zombots are inspiring the next generation of innovators to build strong.

“I definitely want to take my experiences here and use them in college and my future career,” said Bond. “It’s something I find interesting, figuring out how things work, working with my hands, building things and making them work,” she said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Army

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

Operation Just Cause has its 25th anniversary At 1 a.m. on Dec. 20, 1989, roughly 13,000 American troops under the operational command of the XVIII Airborne Corps airlifted into Panama to join the 13,000 Soldiers and Marines al...
 
 
DoD
bigger-norad-logo

NORAD Prepares to Track Santa’s Flight

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The North American Aerospace Defense Command’s NORAD Tracks Santa website, http://www.noradsanta.org/, launched today featuring a mobile version, a holiday countdown, new games and daily act...
 
 

News Briefs December 19, 2014

Today’s paper is final issue for 2014 Today’s issue of The Fort Huachuca Scout is the final issue for 2014. There will be no newspapers published during the two-week holiday block leave. The first issue for 2015 will be delivered on Jan. 9. Deadline for articles and briefs for that week’s issue is Jan. 2....
 

 

FMWR Briefs – December 19, 2014

JD/DL plan New Year’s Eve Party Desert Lanes Bowling Center and Jeannie’s Diner have planned their annual New Year’s Eve party for Dec. 31 from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. The event is open to the public. Everyone is invited to “bowl in the New Year.” The cost, which includes five hours of bowling, is...
 
 
Concert3_Hidalgo

Military Intelligence Corps Band performs Christmas concert for public

Sgt. Jess Bijonowski sings “I’ve got my love to keep me warm” during the Military Intelligence Corps Band Christmas Concert Performance at Buena High School’s Performing Arts Center in Sierra Vista Dec. 10. The free con...
 
 
NOEL9_Hidalgo

Night of Extraordinary Lights brings FH, community together

From left, Michelle, Mark and Brianna Davis, sit at their booth for Shellana Precious Gems at the Night of Extraordinary Lights on Brown Parade Field on Fort Huachuca Dec. 12. The Davis family was among several crafts vendors w...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin