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Thunder Down Under

From the Archive

News created: 19 Apr 2011

2011 Robotics team with Australian Consul General David BinnsMacquarie University sponsored and mentored Sydney high school team, Thunder Down Under (or Team 3132), have won the prestigious Chairman's Award at the FIRST Hawaiian Regional Robotics Competition. The team comprising of Greater Sydney high school students and their mentors, is the first team in the history of the competition to win the award in their second term outside their home country.

FIRST (or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition challenges teams of young high school students and their mentors to solve a common engineering problem in six-weeks using a standard "kit of parts" and a common set of rules. The competition allows students to apply academic knowledge and innovation, while developing teamwork, problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

"To win the Chairman's Award - the highest team honour - out of a field of 32 teams, some having been in the program roughly 10 years, was a truly outstanding result," said project coordinator Associate Professor Mike Heimlich from Macquarie University's Department of Physics and Engineering.

The sixty members of Thunder Down Under won the Chairman's Award for exemplifying the ideals of the FIRST program through an innovative, sustainable and growing program. The team also won the Team Imagery Award for best branding, while team member Cindy Huang won the Safety Star Award.

With mentors from Macquarie University's Faculty of Arts, Business and Economics, and Science and industry mentors from Altium and BAE Systems the students had the support and expertise on hand to prepare the award winning business plan and the team robots, 'That's Not a Knife' and 'Spoon'.

Associate Lecturer Deborah Howlett from the Faculty of Business and Economics is one of the mentors who has been working with the team on the business and marketing component of the competition.

"This team of wonderful and talented young high school students have not only brought Macquarie University international accolades and recognition beyond our shores, but they have given us all much more. As one of the Business Team mentors I feel a sense of fulfilment and pride, that these students may well one day be sitting in our lecture theatres bringing with them at such an early age a wisdom and a set of business experiences beyond their years."

"Becoming involved in Team 3132 has been a life changing experience for me. It has allowed me the privilege of mentoring what I consider to be the future intellect of this nation." says Deborah.

As the winners of the Chairman's Award the Sydney team will now progress to the 2011 FIRST Robotics Championship to be held in St Louis, Missouri, from April 27-30.

The Faculty congratulates the team and wishes them luck at the next round of the competition.

More about FIRST

FIRST or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology is a US based not-for-profit public charity that aims to inspire and engage young students' in science, engineering, technology, and maths by creating a "varsity sport for the mind".

FIRST Robotics Competition is part of FIRST's four robotics programs.

Learn more about the Sydney team, Thunder Down Under


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