SparkED team member brings innovation to robot fighting arena

Innovation meets fighting robots courtesy of one IT specialist.

Jeremy Germita, a member of the 412th Communications Squadron and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., SparkED Innovation Team, will compete as a member of Team Uppercut during this season’s episodes of the popular robot fighting TV program, Battlebots.

“I find it super fulfilling to be able to participate in a competitive outlet for technical skills that many wouldn’t traditionally consider when they think of ‘competition,’” Germita said. “It’s rewarding to be able to increase my skillset, compete with the end-product, identify success and failure factors, and reiterate on the whole process.”

“I think a lot of top level competitors in all sports, outlets, and professions can relate to this process of continuous iteration and improvement,” he added.

Battlebots is a television program that features different teams building remote-controlled robots to compete in cage matches akin to boxing or mixed martial arts. Competitors are based off their robot’s damage, aggression and control during a match, granted it is not destroyed or otherwise immobilized by an opponent.

Germita said his past experience with robotics and the SparkED team is integral to his role on his robot combat team.

“Innovation plays a top role in the robotic sports that I participate in,” he said. “Competitors are working under very real constraints and limitations — finite funding, looming deadlines, and ever-increasing level of competition. Because of this, I put a lot of thought into innovating on workflows and processes for myself and my teams. I don’t think innovation has to specifically be a shiny new feature or end product, but rather it can be applied by improving project management, manufacturing, maintenance and iteration processes.”

Germita serves as a machinist, social media coordinator and electrical team member for Team Uppercut, originally founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He brings with him years of experience in robotics.

“I joined the team in late 2020 as part of the team’s West Coast contingent,” he said. “In addition to that, I bring over 14 years of robotics competition experience through the FIRST Robotics programs around the Antelope Valley.”

When he first joined robotics in middle school, he said he was intent on being a software engineer and focused on teaching himself to computer coding in preparation for. Robotics programs have then showed him how real-world product development involves talented individuals from many disciplines to bring products to market. He has parlayed his skills into improving his day-to-day work within the 412th CS and the SparkED team.

“This teamwork and collaboration really interested me and I’ve since been developing my skills across the gamut to better myself and support those in my local community to do the same,” he explained. “I carry these skills into my day job. I’m always looking for ways to streamline processes and support my teammates on projects, especially in ways that can be automated or better documented. If I can identify a bottleneck in how things are done, I want to be able to improve the process to enable myself and my peers to do better work and serve our customers better.”

Further spurned through his own experiences within the robot community, he has striven to reciprocate those same feelings of community with a younger generation through his volunteer work with base schools’ robotics teams. He credits some of that to Edwards AFB personnel who had mentored him in his younger days.

“My goal with all of my robotics endeavors is multifaceted. Most fundamentally, it’s driven by community,” Germita said. “When I first joined a robotics team in middle school, I was introduced to a welcoming community of makers, engineers, and engineer-adjacent people who strive to share knowledge and improve the world around us. I think that no matter what you do in your career path, the soft skills and mindsets are relevant and useful. Everyone strives to improve themselves and share knowledge to improve the competition.”

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