The word NERDS brings on a different meaning than the high school social status. Standing for Nifty Engineering Robotics Design Squad, the Buena High School club built a robot that placed first in the Inspiration and Recognition [category] in Science and Technology, or FIRST, robotics regional competition March 23-24 in Chandler. In addition, NERDS won the Industrial Safety award, sponsored by General Motors.
The club now advances to the world championship tournament in St. Louis April 24-27, where students come nationally and internationally to compete. One hope of Eric Suchodolski, club sponsor and Buena High School art instructor, is that NERDS is able to seek more sponsorship.
Currently, NERDS sponsorship includes military contractors SAIC and Northrop Grumman. In addition to the sponsors, the students have two mentors from the Cochise Robotics Association that work with them on design and programming.
This year, the 18 student members built a robot based on this year’s challenge called “Ultimate Descent.” The requirement was to build a robot that could shoot a Frisbee at a target and score, based on the difficulty of the target and the number of goals made. According to Suchodolski, the robot is already headed to the competition.
“The robot right now is on its way to Tucson for Fed Ex to ship to the competition,” he said.
Although this is Suchodolski’s first year as club sponsor, he continues to promote the mission of FIRST, which is to inspire youth to become future science and technology leaders. First engages young people mentor-based programs which build science, technology and engineering skills.