hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

School News

February 27, 2014

A boost from NASA

Students get cash, inspiration for robotics competition


Whittier’s team is seeking further donations as it is allowed to spend an additional $2,500 on parts. The team will also compete in a second competition March 28 and 29 at Northeastern University in Boston.

During a recent work session, students looked at and adjusted a tangle of wires and components on what looks like a complex lawnmower. A D-Link wireless hub, which allows it to communicate to the driver station laptop, sits near an on-board air compressor, electrical motors and transmissions. Surgical tubing is wrapped around a handle to provide spring on the launch bar.

“It’s been an experience,” Nick Nicolosi said. “It’s been fun to create something using our knowledge that can actually drive.’’

Alex Matos agreed.

“I wanted to expand my knowledge in robotics and get some experience with programming,” he said. “It’s been enjoyable just building something and seeing it work.”

Because the deadline for completing their robot was Feb. 18, team members planned to come to school and work on it on Monday and Tuesday of February school vacation. The “Metallic Poet” had to be packaged up at the end of the day Feb. 18 until was delivered to Nashua.

While robotics students have brainstormed to solve programming and design glitches to allow them to drive the robot from laptop computers, students from other vocational-technical programs at Whittier have eagerly chipped in.

Carpentry students constructed a large table in the robotics shop where the robot was built. Machine technology and metal fabrication students manufactured an aluminum base for the wheels and loader. Parents donated pizza and other food for the team’s Saturday meetings.

Beaton founded the team with fellow teacher Chris Speropolous. Both were hired at Whittier two years ago and have experience with robotics competitions. As teachers at Lynn Tech in 2006, they won the coveted Rookie All-Star Award at the Boston Regional Competition, something they now hope to achieve with the Whittier students. Beaton also founded a team at Nashoba Tech that won the 2011 Boston Regional Rookie All-Star award.

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