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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Meet Lucy, the Robot that Shoots Basketballs


Navistar hosts pizza party to celebrate partnership with NNHS Robotics Team

On April 18, thanks to a heads up from Huskie parent Anita Mraz, PN met Naperville North High School’s newest Huskie, Lucy, during a reception at the Navistar Innovation and Design Center. Lucy stands 4 1/2 feet tall and weighs 150 pounds.  She drives wirelessly, picks up Nerf basketballs on the floor, rolls them up through her frame and shoots them over overhead and up 50 feet.  She was constructed by approximately 25 very bright and industrious students who comprise the NNHS Robotics Team.

[thethe-image-slider name=”Navistar Robot”]

About 80 interested individuals and members of  “The Team” enjoyed a pizza party to celebrate recent accomplishments at the Midwest Regionals of the FIRST Robotics Competition at UIC Pavilion in Chicago.

Before the teacher coaches and students recognized 12 mentors and spread enthusiastic gratitude all around, Steve Bruford, Vice President, Vehicle Product Development at Navistar, provided an overview of the engineering company’s research, development and future to produce trucks and diesel engines for the commercial and export markets. He noted how quickly Navistar has grown from a $9 billion company four years ago to $15 billion in 2012, now building 145,000 vehicles this year.  Bruford noted Navistar has also entered into ventures with  India, Brazil and China and has its sights on South Africa, Australia, Columbia and Peru to meet the needs of a globally growing commercial vehicle market.

Still looking forward to coming to work every day, Bruford also offered some words of wisdom to all the students in attendance. “Find a career, not a job,” he said.

The NNHS Robotic Team finished the qualification matches with a 9-2 record and became the captain of the 7th seeded alliance.  They went on to defeat the 2nd seeded alliance in the quarterfinals advancing to the semi-finals. They lost in the semi-finals to an alliance consisting of two teams with a total of seven previous national championships.

“While this result was quite impressive for a four- year-old team and beyond what the coaches and students hoped for going into the competition, perhaps the bigger accomplishment was being awarded the ‘Gracious Professionalism Award,’ wrote Mraz.

Wired for success! During festivities at Navistar, teacher coaches defined “Gracious Professionalism” as a culture that FIRST promotes: it’s a phrase you hear coined throughout the competition.  This award was bestowed on the Huskies for helping several teams during the opening day.  Specifically, five, maybe more, Huskie students worked with a rookie team that only had one mentor and one student show up for competition and had a robot that didn’t pass the required inspection in order to compete.  They spent all day helping them re-wire the entire robot up to specification, write hours worth of computer code from scratch to get it to drive and pass safety inspections required for competition.  And when it came time to compete, two of the younger Huskies “suited up” in this rookie team’s uniform and helped them drive the robot in their first competition match which typically requires 3 students.  Most rookie teams would be thrilled to have a robot that simply rolled at some point while on the field however because of NNHS students’ help, this team was able to drive their robot and actually scored a basket.

This year, the major sponsors were Navistar, Motorola Solutions Foundation, and Steve Coan, owner and president of Create Cut Invent in Naperville.  Support from sponsors came in the form of not only monetary support but mentoring and fabrication support.

Coaches Geoff Schmit, Becky Diorio and Mark Rowzee expressed their appreciation to their team, the parents, teachers, instructors and Navistar, all of whom contributed to a great season.

During festivities, student Cari Cesarotti represented the team, expressing thanks to all the “incredible” partners who contributed to the success of the project. She also presented individual “Gracious Professional” Awards to  Bruford and Coan.

PN snapped photos of the students, many in bright orange shirts, showing their team spirit and of Lucy as she demonstrated how she picks up balls and tosses them while she scoots around a room.

During festivities, attendees also were given tours of Navistar’s Design Center as well as the Power Wall Room, a space with a 50’ x 25’ TV screen, the largest TV screen in North America.

Congratulations to all who participated in this exceptional partnership. Go, Lucy!

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.