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Building a better world

Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 9:28 am

Roman Cutler, a senior at Lancaster High School and Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, is busy setting up for a beginner’s electronics/robotics class, which he’s holding as part of the FIRST Robotics group that meets regularly at Lancaster Community Library in Kilmarnock.

Cutler talks excitedly about robotics, something he’s taught himself and enjoys teaching to others. He was “around 5 or 8” when he built his first robot using a LEGO Mindstorms set that was originally purchased for his older brother. A quick learner, he moved on to more serious stuff with Arduino, an open source programming language for electronics, and his own 3D printer. YouTube videos provided the expert guidance and the opportunity to ask questions that allowed him “to test designs and programming.”  Successes and failures spurred him on, eventually developing a robot that folds his clothes. With these tools, the options seemed endless. “I could make anything I could think of.”

With FIRST Robotics, it’s opened his world to more mentors, challenges and experiences. FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, was created by prolific inventor Dean Kamen (most famously of the Segway) in 1989 to “to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology” according to their website, firstinspires.org.

FIRST offers four competitions to help develop budding engineers using real-world challenges which teams try to solve by building robots. Depending on age, there are two LEGO Leagues for elementary and middle schoolers; the FIRST Tech challenge, which Cutler’s team, the Stardust Crusaders, participates in, for grades 7-12, and the FIRST Robotics Competition, for grades 9 through 12.

For the full article, pick up the latest Northern Neck News 1/16/19