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For Immediate Release — December 6, 2010 | HQ
: DoDEA Educational Communications Officers | (703) 588-3272
: DoDEA Educational Communications Officers | (703) 588-3265


ARLINGTON, VA — December 6, 2010 — Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) students from the Aviano Middle/High School Robotics Club, in Aviano, Italy will travel to the Washington, DC area to compete in the Maryland First Tech (FTC) Challenge Championship in December. The team, named Robotica Santi, consists of 14 students, although only seven will travel to participate in this event. Mr. David Izzo, club sponsor and Technology Education Teacher at Aviano will lead the team to the states.

The FTC challenge is part of a national robotics competition designed to promote Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers for high school students. The competition takes place on December 11 at the Science and Technology building on the campus of the College of Southern Maryland located in La Plata, Md.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to be part of this competition,” said senior Sam Hillestad, club vice president.

“The students have successfully programmed the robot for remote control operation using a wireless network that includes a communication module from Cisco that was donated to each team.”

There are two phases to the competition. An autonomous period that lasts 40 seconds where the robot is programmed to retrieve batons from dispensers located in three places at various heights. The robot then needs to put batons in scoring bins for team points. The robot needs to be able to drive up a cliff, over a mountain or across a bridge to retrieve and score with the batons.

The second phase is a driver-controlled period. Teams earn points by parking on a bridge, cliff or mountain at the end of the game.

According to sophomore Josh Stevens, the “Robotica Santi” robot has successfully driven across the bridge and across the cliff and is able to pull out batons from all three dispensers and place them in the stationery goal or the rolling goal. Santi drivers have also been able to park balanced on the bridge during the end game.

“As a rookie team we are at a disadvantage as most of the other teams have participated in scrimmages leading up to the competition,” said senior Hanna Schmidtman, club president. “But we are optimistic that “Santi” will perform successfully and represent Aviano MHS well in the competition.”

For more information on the competition visit:

DoDEA consists of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools located overseas, and the Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools located in the U.S. and its territories and possessions. DoDEA provides education to eligible DoD military and civilian dependents from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Education Activities throughout the U.S. that serve children of military families.

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