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Joule Bots at Bob Jones ready to BEST the competition

Members of Joule Bots, junior William Irrgang, at left, and freshman Anna Mathias work in the build phase of their robot's design process. (CONTRIBUTED)
Members of Joule Bots, junior William Irrgang, at left, and freshman Anna Mathias work in the build phase of their robot’s design process. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – The Joule Bots are exploring tomorrow’s technology today at Bob Jones High School.

The robotics team’s nickname refers a unit of energy and abbreviates ‘robot.’

The team participates in BEST (Boost Engineering, Science, and Technology) to master working in teams, serving in leadership roles, thinking analytically and solving complex industrial design problems.

Joule Bots members are seniors Alan Mathias and Victoria Van; juniors Eric Black, Ashley Dong, William Irrgang, Joseph Kluesner, Wendy Nguyen, Alex Wu and Amy Zari; sophomores Andrew Lundberg and Daniel Thompson; and freshmen Xiao and Lin Anna Mathias.

Engineering teacher Jeremy Raper coaches the team.

Mala Thompson mentors the team. At Tec-Masters Inc., Thompson manages a group of engineers who design, test and integrate fight hardware for the International Space Station and other NASA programs. Thompson helps students understand the importance of fully defined requirements before starting design, a project plan that includes schedule and budget, along with milestone updates.

Other mentors are Tec-Masters design engineer Guy Smith and retired teacher Kathy Thomas who edits documentation. Team sponsors are Tec-Masters, DEI and Gigi’s Cupcakes.

Joule Bots will enter the Tennessee Valley BEST Competition at Calhoun Community College on Oct. 18. The 2014 theme, “Blade Runner,” proposes transportation of wind turbine components on U.S. roadways and on-site assembly. Officials will judge their engineering notebook, marketing presentation, exhibit, spirit and robot performance.

Their robot is built with basic off-the-shelf components, particularly plywood and PVC pipe. Small motors move the robot. A VEX robotics ‘brain’ powers and controls it. Students code in Easy-C programming language.

During meetings, Joule Bots program, research and market their design, along with designing web and Facebook pages.

For student Alan Mathias, Joule Bots lets him “actually work on motors and electronics. We all have different ideas that help us succeed.”

Victoria Van likes the STEM aspect of robotics. “BEST lets us work as a team to solve a real-life situation. BEST doesn’t just focus on technical aspects of building a robot but also includes project development, like management and marketing.”

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