Meet The Fish, a basketball playing robot that sports 95% “layup” accuracy and sinks 70% of its shots at the top of the key. The Fish is the final product of a high school robotics team named the Buchanan Bird Brains. They recently competed in the FIRST robotics high school competition, a competition designed to inspire young people in science and technology.
Eunice Kokor is a high school junior who leads the Bird Brains’ eight-person CAD Design team. She became interested in robotics as a freshman.
“[I saw how] high school students just like me were collaborating together and using their minds to create something bigger than themselves. It still continues to inspire me. Each day at robotics I have to think in ways that I’ve never had to think before. It’s challenging. It’s tough. It’s intense. It’s stimulating. But it’s fun, too.”
The Bird Brains operate less like a high school team and more like a high-powered successful business. Their 17-year-old CEO, Evan Giarta manages 50 students in subteams that include marketing, communications, CAD design, and electronics design. With mentors from companies in their community, the Bird Brains learn how to accomplish every task from CAD design to fabrication to robot programming and animation.
PTC provided special licenses of Creo Parametric and Windchill to Kokor and her team to design The Fish.
For Kokor, the best part was “tackling problems as real engineers in our world do with the same software they use… When you finally get the gist of 3D and 2D modeling, it’s a blast. Our team often finds time to make silly models of things we see in our daily lives. I’ve seen Game Boys, crazy wheel patterns, pink robots, and Wall-E.”
They may be students, but even professional design teams can learn a few things from these FIRST Robotics competition teams. In this episode, Vince & Allison report on The Bird Brains’ robot and how they overcame a lot of the same challenges as commercial design teams.