March 31, 2005

This touched me on so many levels...

Four Mexican immigrant kids who lived in shanty houses and went to a little known school beat a team from MIT in an underwater robot championship. The MIT team had three times as many members and almost 15 times the budget.
... in a second-floor windowless room, four students huddle around an odd, 3-foot-tall frame constructed of PVC pipe. They have equipped it with propellers, cameras, lights, a laser, depth detectors, pumps, an underwater microphone, and an articulated pincer. [...] It's a cheap but astoundingly functional underwater robot capable of recording sonar pings and retrieving objects 50 feet below the surface. The four teenagers who built it are all undocumented Mexican immigrants who came to this country through tunnels or hidden in the backseats of cars. They live in sheds and rooms without electricity. But over three days last summer, these kids from the desert proved they are among the smartest young underwater engineers in the country.

La Vida Robot

1 Comments so far      

Blogger Manu Sharma:

Soon after this post, Joshua Davis, writer of La Vida Robot, wrote in with this bit of news:

"I'm so glad you liked the article. If you're interested, Allan Cameron and Fredi Lajvardi, the two teachers who run the robotics program at Carl Hayden, have set up a scholarship fund for the La Vida Robot kids through the school district. Any money raised will go toward the kids' college education and will be split equally between Oscar, Lorenzo, Cristian and Luis. It's tax deductible and every little bit will help. The fund is called: "Phoenix Union Partnership - La Vida Robot Scholarship"

The mailing address is:
Phoenix Union Partnership - La Vida Robot Scholarship
Phoenix Union High School District - Attn: Jodie Baker
4502 N. Central, Room 5
Phoenix, AZ 85012

In other news, the kids have already racked up another title. Two weeks ago, Cristian and Lorenzo piloted a land-based robot that won the top award at the FIRST robotics regional championships, one of the country's largest robotics contests. They're headed to Atlanta now for the national championship. I was in Phoenix with them on the first day of the regionals and was amazed to see the cheerleading squad there. It was the first time the cheerleaders had ever shown up at a roboitcs event. When the guys won a round, the cheerleaders started chanting Cristian's name. It was wonderful to see."

20 September 2005 11:36:00 GMT+05:30 link  

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