UNCW Students Coach Robotics Club for Area High School Students

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Wired Wizards, a robotics team for area high school students founded by UNCW's chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), recently placed second among all rookie teams at a competition in Raleigh.

The Wired Wizards, made up of students from Hoggard High School, Isaac Bear Early College, New Hanover High School, Topsail High School and local home-schooled students, built a high-tech, task-performing robot for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition in March. They competed against 54 other teams from across the country and one from the Netherlands. They placed 19th overall.

"I have been told that we handled ourselves like a veteran team, and I am confident that we will be very successful next year, especially now that we all fully understand the game and scoring," said graduate student Jazmin Capezza, ACM president and Wired Wizards head coach. Under her leadership the ACM club obtained a $6,000 grant from NASA's Robotics Alliance Project last fall.

The competition requires each team of students to work together to create a team "brand," raise necessary funds, and build and program their own unique robot that must be able to perform prescribed tasks and compete in a game-the rules to which each team receives only six weeks prior to the competition.

The ACM formed the Wired Wizards to create opportunities for collaboration among high school students, community engineers, and UNCW students and faculty. The goal, according to faculty advisor Richard Chapman, an adjunct professor of computer science, is to help high school students to explore and experience real-world science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

"Not all high school students are aware of these careers," he said, "and the FIRST Robotics competition opens the door to that world for those students."