Headline Nov 27, 2015/ ''' TAKING ON... .: .... THE BEST FROM MIT '''

''' TAKING ON... .: .... 


STUDENT LORENZO SANTILLAN 16, sat in the front seat of the school van, looking out at the migrant workers in the fields along the highway in Southern California.

Lorenzo's face still had its baby fat, but he'd recently sprouted a mustache and had taken to wearing gold   -a fistful of rings, a chain and a medallion of the Virgin Mary.

The bling wasn't fooling anyone.  His mother had lost her job as a hotel maid, and his father, a gardener, was having trouble paying the rent. He could see himself having to quit school and to work in those fields.
"What's a PWM cable?". The sharp question from the van's driver, Allan Cameron, snapped Lorenzo out of his reverie.

Cameron was a  computer science teacher at Carl Hayden Community  High School in west Phoenix, and a sponsor of the robotics club there, along with the science teacher Fredi Lajvardi. They had put up fliers offering to sponsor anyone looking to compete in the annual   Marine Advanced Education Center's Remotely Operated Vehicle  [ROV]   Competititon.

Cameron hadn't expected many students to sign up, particularly not a kid like Lorenzo, who was failing most of his classes. But Lorenzo was one of the first to show an interest.

He'd been associated with WBP 8th street, a west-side gang. When his friends started to get arrested for theft, he left. He didn't want to go to jail.
"PWM,"  Lorenzo replied automatically. ''Pulse with modulation."

Over the past four months, Lorenzo had flourished, learning acronyms and raising his math grade from an F to an A. He had grown up rebuilding car engines with his brother and cousin. Now he was ready to build something of his own. The team had found its mechanics man.   

Student Cristian Arcega, 16, had been living in a  three-square-metre plywood shed attached to his parents' trailer ever since his younger sister demanded her own room. He liked it there. It was his own space.

He was free to contemplate the acceleration of a rain drop as it left the clouds above him, hit the roof and slid towards the puddles outside. He imagined that the puddles were oceans and that the underwater robot he was building at school was could explore them.

The ROBOT COMPETITION   -sponsored primarily by the   National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration  -required students to build a bot that could survey a sunken mock-up of a submarine.

The teachers had entered the club in the advanced Explorer class, figuring there was more honour in losing to university kids than to other secondary schoolers in the beginners' Ranger class. Their real goal was to show the students there were opportunities outside west Phoenix.

''We should use glass syntactic floatation foam,'' Cristian said excitedly at that first meeting. ''It's got a really high compressive strength.''
Camerom and Lajvardi, or ledge, as students called the teacher, looked at each other. They had their genius.

A Born Leader, Oscar Vazquez had been in the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps since Year Nine, and was planning on a career in the military until he found out that he was ineligible for service. Oscar was undocumented  -his parents had brought him to the US from Mexico when he was 12.

Now in his final year of secondary school, he felt aimless until he heard about Cameron's robotics club. Just maybe, he thought, engineering could offer him a future.

Oscar made sure that everyone in the room was focused when he phoned Frank Szwankowski, a thermometer salesman who knew as much about heat-gauging applications as anyone in the US.

All day long Szwankowski, talked to military contractors, industrial engineers and environmental consultants. So he was momentarily confused whether he Oscar's accent on the other end of line asking for advice on how to build a military-grade underwater ROV.

Oscar placed Szwankowski on speakerphone, then introduced his teammates Cristian, Lorenzo, and 18-year old Luis Aranda. At 178 centimetres and 113 kilograms, Luis looked the Chief from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

He was the tether man, responsible for the pickup and release of what would be a nearly  one-metere tall robot, weighing 45 kilograms.   

Szwankowski was impressed. A few weeks earlier, students from MIT had called, asked him what they wanted and hung up. Oscar spent 45 minutes on the phone digging deeper and deeper into the thermometer physics.
''What you really want,'' Szwankowski confided,'' is a thermocouple with a cold junction compensator.'' He went over the specs and then paused. ''You know,'' he said, ''I think you can beat those guys from MIT.''

''You hear that?'' Oscar said triumphantly when they hung up. He looked at each member pointedly. '' We got people believing in us, so now we got to believe in ourselves.''

The Honour and Serving of this true Students' story continues. Thank you for reading and sharing forward and see Ya all on the following one.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the World. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society:

''' Believing In Ourselves '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!