WWU, Sehome students show off robots at festival

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 30, 2014 

ROBOT FESTIVAL

Augustus Booker, 8, watches a robot sumo wrestling competition at the Northwest Robot Festival on Friday, May 30, 2014 in the Communications Facility at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash.

EVAN ABELL — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

BELLINGHAM - Students showed off their talent in robot exhibitions, competitions and a sumo robot battle at Western Washington University's student robot festival Friday, May 30.

Highlights of the day included a show-and-tell with the Bellingham Police Department of their bomb disposal robot and a "Build Your Own Robot" station. Students from Western's Intro to Robotics class also brought robots they built for the festival.

Kasey Kohler, a senior studying manufacturing, built a robot that uses a sonar sensor to move around and avoid objects.

"I really liked how we attempted to blend real-world machines with programming instead of being behind a computer screen," Kohler said.

Jianna Zhang, an associate professor of computer science, teaches the Intro to Robotics class and helped organize the event. Zhang said the robot festival is important because it gets both students and kids excited about robotics and science.

Zhang pointed to a kid busy at the "Build Your First Robot" table.

"Look at how he's working with his hands," she said. "He's going to be terrific."

Four students from Sehome High School's robotics club, the Sehome Seamonsters, were at the festival with a robot they designed in six weeks and took to two district competitions.

The robot was designed to move, pick up and shoot an exercise ball while moving down a field and getting around other robots.

"I've learned so much. Coming in I knew nothing about programming," said Liam Taylor, a 17-year-old Sehome junior.

Zachary Larson, another junior at Sehome, said the robotics club has inspired him to become an engineer.

"Everything I see now has a technical aspect to it," he said. "How does this work? How can it be better?"

Reach Elana Pidgeon at 360-715-2249 or elana.pidgeon@bellinghamherald.com.

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