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Curtin robot battles for national glory

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A robot that can climb pyramids and shoot Frisbees at a target has been built by high school pupils mentored by Curtin University students.

Team Curtin, made up of 12 students from nine different high schools, and guided by six mechatronic and computer science students, built a robot that will compete against other teams in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science Technology Robotics Challenge in Sydney next week.

Mr Tim Keely, Curtin’s Engineering Outreach Coordinator and leader of the project, said Team Curtin was the first and only Western Australian team to compete for the title, believing they had a good chance to win and make WA proud of their newly developed mechanical engineering skills.

“The students all pitched in to build the robot, engineering it to manoeuvre around the arena, collect Frisbees, shoot them at a target, and then climb a pyramid frame the highest,” Mr Keely said.

“However, the robot’s task in the arena is only part of winning the competition – participants need to show evidence of creating online webpages, uploading videos, planning and engaging with the community.

“I feel proud to say we have achieved more than required, and I reckon our robot could take home the title, particularly with the strong team behind it.”

Mr Jamie Smith, an engineering student mentor, said building the robot was no simple challenge – it was a true demonstration of robotics engineering, riddled with many difficulties.

“None of the high school students involved have ever done this kind of engineering – in many respects, it is a true university-level challenge,” Mr Smith said.

“They’d never, for instance, had to consider what size a bolt and washer are on a particular join. And over a whole system, these little parts add up to a massive learning curve.”

Team Leader Mr Keely said only the top high school students were selected to come to Curtin and build the robot under the mentorship of engineering students and staff.

“It was great to see students helping students, giving engineering students an opportunity to develop leadership and technical skills, as well as allowing high school students to challenge themselves in a new environment,” Mr Keely said.

The high school students hailed from Chisholm Catholic College, Trinity College, Sacred Heart College, Rossmoyne Senior High School, Churchlands Senior High School, Hale School, John Wollaston Anglican Community School, Corpus Christi College and St Mark’s Anglican Community School.

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