LSP Supports Students in FIRST Robotics Competitions.
The Bionic Tiger's robot

The Bionic Tigers team robot shoots a basketball during a FIRST Robotics competition.
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Fans cheer for Team 801

Fans cheer for Team 801, aka Team Horsepower, at a FIRST Robotics competition.
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Teamwork at a FIRST competition

Team members from the Bionic Tigers and Horsepower prepare for a FIRST Robotics match.
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The Bionic Tigers at FIRST World Championships

The Bionic Tigers arrive at the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis.
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The Bionic Tigers have left their paw prints on the robotic world.

The Bionic Tigers, also known as Team 1592, are a group of students from Brevard County, Florida that compete in a series of state and national robotic competitions called FIRST Robotics.

Their team name is a play on words associated with the tiger mascot of their two schools, Cocoa High School and Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy. Though their name may be all fun and games, when it comes to robotics, the Tigers don't play around.

The Bionic Tigers had a very successful 2012 season which included winning 1st place in two Florida regional competitions. Those wins earned them a trip to the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis, where they won several matches and reached the quarterfinals round. Throughout the season, the Bionic Tigers also won coveted team awards such as an Innovation in Control Award and the Entrepreneurship Award.

FIRST Robotics is a non-profit organization that sponsors robotic competitions to promote and encourage education to students and teachers. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” Over 60,000 high school students are involved in the 2012 FIRST robotics competitions, including teams from around the world such as the Dominican Republic, Canada and Australia.

“I feel like I’ve really made some good friends and it’s great to be around people that I have so much in common with,” said Josh Rain, Bionic Tigers team member.

Each year, the FIRST Robotics committee creates a new game. This year’s game was called “Rebound Rumble”, a version of basketball pitting one team's robot against another. Each team has six weeks to build their robot and students are heavily involved in every aspect including design, fabrication, electrical systems and software development.

“The robotics team has been very helpful in motivating me to keep up with my school work,” said Josh Rain, team member. “I have learned that I want to be a mechanical engineer through this experience and the next step will be getting a good education so I can pursue my career goals.”

NASA is the largest sponsor of FIRST robotics and plays a significant role in providing hands-on experiences with scientists and engineers. For the Bionic Tigers, that support comes from Dustin Dyer, Nathan Gelino and Jim Sudermann, three engineers with NASA’s Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center.

“A FIRST Robotics team is not too different from a small technology company. It’s the perfect venue for students and mentors to develop the skills that will make them successful in virtually any career field,” said Dustin Dyer, LSP engineer and team mentor.

Though the Bionic Tigers have earned individual recognitions, they are quick to point our their new partnership with Team Horsepower, another local robotics team. Team Horsepower, aka Team 801, consists of local students from Merritt Island High, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, and Merritt Island Christian. Following the 2011 season, the two teams decided to combine their skills and experiences, a move that has benefited everyone involved.

“We were really excited to work with 801 this year. Both teams really compliment each other nicely,” said Bobby Forman of the Bionic Tigers. “Horsepower excels at electrical and programming, while we have always been strong in mechanical design.”

“This year has been a fantastic experience. Everyone learned new things and had equal opportunities to learn to use machinery and explain their ideas on how challenges should be overcome,” said Horsepower team member Marc Baschin.

FIRST Robotics is about more than robots and engineering. Both teams have students experienced in business, photography/videography, website design, creative writing, social media, fundraising and event planning. No matter where a student’s interests lie, they can find a place on the team to exercise their skills and creativity.

“I strongly believe that you become what you celebrate,” said Nathan Gelino, Bionic Tiger mentor. “FIRST provides a rare opportunity for students to celebrate something that is beneficial to both their future and society.”

You can learn more about the Bionic Tigers and Team Horsepower by following them on their team websites.
› The Bionic Tiger's Website
› Team Horsepower Website
Christopher Blair,
NASA's Launch Services Program
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