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NSU RoboHawks bring home championship title from Robot Jubilee

By NSU Staff

(Tahlequah, Okla.)--The RoboHawks, Northeastern State University’s newest student organization, recently went undefeated at Robot Jubilee, a VEX-U Tournament. Clear Falls High School in League City, Texas hosted the Feb. 21 competition which consisted of eight teams from Oklahoma, Texas and Florida.  

RoboHawks is a two-sided organization housed within the College of Educations, Robotics Academy of Critical Engagement (R.A.C.E.). 

On the organization side of the group, RoboHawks boasts a mission of promoting knowledge of science, engineering, and technology throughout K-12 schools and the communities they serve through the use of robotics; and to develop critical thinking, leadership, business, teamwork, communication and other life skills. 

Through the organization, NSU students receive the opportunity to build basic robots, program robots, learn simple machinery, cause and effect and balance. They also complete a service-learning project helping public school children in the robotics area and speaking more in depth with teachers and parents in the field. RoboHawks members also conduct workshops for teachers and public school children, as well as provide presentations to businesses and communities. Some have even had the opportunity to write curriculum for teachers. 

“It is vital that future teachers understand the emerging technologies in society and how to integrate them into schools,” Dr. Barbara Fuller, director of R.A.C.E. said. “Many areas of technology have been chosen to focus on in the curriculum for our students, but robotics was chosen specifically to enhance critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration. The robotics field is enticing to children in today’s society with the natural motivation already built in.”

The other half to RoboHawks is the competition team, which currently consists of five members: James Townsend, captain and driver, Kirk Norrid, coach, Brandon Baldridge, driver, Mike Cambiano, driver, and Mikaila Falkner, driver with Dr. Renee Cambiano as lead mentor and faculty advisor.

Previous to the team’s win in Texas, the RoboHawks competed in the VEXPO 14 in November of 2014, which was hosted by Cherokee Nation Education Services and NSU’s College of Education. The team received the Design Award at this event and ranked third place, which earned them a spot in the final rounds against Oklahoma Christian University. During this round, the RoboHawks placed second. 

The RoboHawks will head to Louisville, Kentucky on April 15-18 to compete at 2015 VEX U World Championship. Although this will be the RoboHawks’ third year making it to the world competition, this will be the first time the team goes in with an undefeated record.

“We have a really great team this year, and we work so well together,” Townsend said. “The universities we go up against are usually engineering or technical schools. They are good, but we as educators are striving to learn the game well so that we can know how to lead a K-12 school in to the state or world competition.”

VEX robotics is currently the largest robotics entity in the world. Northeastern state University is the only VEX robotics program in the United States to be housed in a College of Education, and the RoboHawks program prides itself in putting education first, competition second.

“This program is unique in recognizing that teachers are the true future to any area,” Fuller said. “We are graduating teachers who will be educating thousands of future scientists, poets, technicians, mathematicians and informed, well-rounded citizens. We aren’t just educating the hundred of NSU graduates, we are educating the thousands of students our NSU graduates will be teaching.”

The VEX-U college and university competition has nearly 300 teams competing. While many teams are housed within the United States, teams exist in many countries throughout the world.  With robotics being such a hot topic, the program has added a unique appeal to NSU.

“I personally see NSU growing prestige with the RoboHawks presence,” Townsend said. “We are an exciting addition the NSU experience. Also, as a service oriented organization, we strive to network and build support around the region for the many growing robotics programs.”

Published: 4/1/2015 9:45:12 AM

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