I was checking out an article about High School Inventors on PopSci for 2011, I actually wasn’t surprised to find a FIRST student in there.
High School: Carl Hayden Community High School, Phoenix, Ariz.
Invention: 3-D assisted robotic arm
After Eddie Fernandez figured out how to take apart a remote-control car at age five, no gadget was safe. “Toys, batteries, motors, circuits: I wanted to know how they all worked,” he says. In seventh grade, he joined a team that built robots for the national FIRST competition. One entry threw 80-inch spheres eight feet in the air. Another played soccer. He also helped design and build an underwater autonomous robot. But his best work so far, he says, came about when he led the construction of the EVROV robot arm, designed to lift and move instruments to assist astronauts with spacewalks. He also created a complementary 3-D video system that helps human operators gauge depth as they remotely operate the arm from inside their ship. He presented the robot (and its nearly $11,000 price tag) at last year’s Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation Awards. Fernandez is motivated in part by uncertainty—his father was recently deported to Mexico. “When it happened, it really hit me that things can change overnight,” he says. “And that I needed to work harder and make better use of my time.”
College: Fernandez will be heading to Arizona State University in the fall to study mechanical engineering.
Gabriel Lee was also on a robotics (presumabley FIRST) team. Very cool to see that at least 2/10 of these kids are sprouted from FIRST.