Cumberland Times-News

Local News

February 12, 2014

Allegany High School students building robots

Twelve participating in newly formed club

CUMBERLAND — Although Nathan Bruck’s attempt to be elected Allegany High School’s freshman class president came up short, with help from math teacher Dennis Dennison, his campaign promise to bring a robotics club to the school has become a reality.

“I’ve learned exactly what can come from a loss. Everything has a silver lining,” said Bruck, age 14.

In the fall, Bruck and three other candidates were allowed to present their campaign platforms over the school’s intercom system. Dennison, who had also been exploring the idea of a robotics club, heard Bruck’s plan and asked him for a meeting.

The duo involved others, including math teacher Keith Mikula, and plans were underway.

Dennison had attended a conference on robotics and was already attempting to secure funding for a club.

“In October we got the news that we had been awarded a $12,000 grant from the Toshiba America Foundation,” said Dennison.

The word was circulated that the club was forming. They held their first meeting in December.

“I was thankful that we got it off the ground,” said Bruck.

Dennison said that robotics is a growing industry and is used frequently in space exploration, health science, military and law enforcement.

“It’s in manufacturing. Look at the auto industry,” said Mikula.

“They need people to make robots. Programming of robots is also needed,” said Mikula.

The robotics club has around 12 members. They have started using the robotics Lego Mindstorms EV3 education kit. The group has also obtained the more advanced Tetrix robotics kit by Pitsco.

“It’s going to be a good experience for the kids,” said Mikula.

Sawyer Jenkins, 14, a freshman, joined the club.

“When I turned 8, I wanted to learn more about it and the uses for robots,” said Jenkins. “This will be a great way to learn more.”

Dennison said the various clubs can enter in competitions.

“They have tournaments where you compete with others. It’s really a team effort. We hope to participate,” said Dennison.

Bracken McDaniel-Weis-sler, 14, of Cumberland is also a club member.

“Nathan (Bruck) is a good friend of mine. I wanted to support the club,” said McDaniel-Weissler.

“Programming and de-signing and creating robots from scratch is the most interesting aspect to me,” he said.

The Allegany Robotics Club is open to interested seventh- and eighth-graders and has two students from Braddock Middle School.

Other students in the club include Emerson Miltenberger, Hunter Dennison, Alex Jackson, Nick Warnick, Connor Mantheiy, Tyler Hensel and Caeden Chapman.

“When I heard about the club, I thought it would be good,” said Chapman, 16.

A junior, Chapman said he is interested in the aerospace studies program at the Air Force Academy.

Dennison said that robotics requires critical thinking skills.

“It builds confidence and it teaches students how to work with others,” said Dennison.

Bruck was impressed by a successful robotics club in Garrett County that meets at Southern High School. Known as Team 1629, the Garrett County club was formed under the FIRST Tech Challenge organization.

“We are kinda modeled after them,” said Bruck.

Bruck’s dream of bringing the club to Allegany High School has been a big boost to the project.

Both Warnick and Jackson said that Bruck’s interest in the robotics club inspired them to join.

For more information on the club, including how to make a donation, visit online at AlleganyRobotics.org.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com

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