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Canton Charter Academy students achieve Robofest trifecta

Release Date: May 26, 2010

Southfield, Michigan – Four Canton Charter Academy students on the Dawg Botz robotics team achieved a trifecta at the Robofest World Championships held at Lawrence Technological University May 8 by winning the Junior Exhibition category, the People’s Choice trophy and a Creativity and Innovation Development Grant.

This year 441 teams from several states, Canada, Korea and China competed in Robofest, an annual competition of autonomous robots that encourages students to have fun while learning principles of computer science, physics, math, engineering and technology.  Teams compete in the junior division (grades 5-9), senior division (grades 9-12) and college division.

Canton Charter Academy eighth graders Stephen Bonello, Humza Shaukat, and Breana and Brendan Noble demonstrated how technology can help the environment with P.L.A.N.T., which stands for plant-locating autonomous nurturing technology.  Their robot can identify a plant and then test the soil around it to determine if additional water is needed for that type of plant.  The robot waters plants by pumping air into a sealed container of water, forcing water out of a tube onto the soil.

The Dawg Botz robot uses several motors, color and soil sensors, both infrared and ultrasonic obstacle detection sensors, three computer controllers, and Bluetooth communications to keep plants happy.  The team also described how overwatering on our nation’s farms can lead to fertilizer runoff into fresh water sources.

This is the second year that the Dawg Botz team has won a Creativity and Innovation Development Grant. Judges for that competition were provided by the Joint Center for Robotics at the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). 

“Events like Robofest are important to TARDEC because they help us lay the groundwork for the future of Michigan’s engineering and technical workforce,” said Bernard Theisen, project manager for outreach at the Joint Center for Robotics. “Robotics is a multidisciplinary field, so students are exposed to the computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, and math disciplines.”

For more about the team and P.L.A.N.T., visit www.dawgbotz.info, or contact assistant coach Rudie Noble at (517) 483-7590 (office), (734) 397-0613 (evenings) or rudie.d.noble@gmail.com.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, offers over 100 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus is in Southfield, and programs are also offered in Detroit, Lansing, Traverse City and Petoskey. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.