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Members of world champion team demonstrates robot at John Marshall High School’s, School of Engineering’s Project Inspire

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PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN Wednesday, May 11, 2016; John Marshall School of Engineering Project Inspire 2016, John Marshall High School, 3952 W. 140th Street: One of the highlights of this open house was a robotics demonstration by some of the Youth Technology Academy students that built the robot that won the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics World Championship in St. Louis this year. Standing with the robot are staff members of the Youth Technology Academy at Cuyahoga Community College, who coached students that came together from seven different Cleveland Metropolitan School District high schools to form the winning robotics team. The staff members (L_R) are: Project Coordinator Kevin Sarran; Field Specialist Kéondrae Mell; Field Specialist Alex Perez; Youth Technology Academy teacher Armin Rashvand; and Cuyahoga Community College Technology Academies Executive Director George Bilokonsky.

(Plain Press, June 2016) On May 11th, John Marshall High School’s School of Engineering opened its doors with Project Inspire to showcase its program to the community. One of the highlights of Project Inspire, held at the high school on W. 140th, was a demonstration of the robot that Cleveland students built while competing in and winning the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics World Championship Winning Alliance in St. Louis on April 30th.

Those in attendance received a demonstration of some of the capabilities of the robot as students operated a control box to instruct the robot to pick up a ball and toss it. The robot performed this task, repeatedly, as it moved about the floor. The robot also raised is grappling hook, one of the features of the robot that helped to win the World Championship.

At the championship in St. Louis on the last weekend of April, the Cleveland team joined with three other teams to form the alliance that won the coveted FIRST Robotics Competition Championship Winning Alliance. The teams that Cleveland allied with were from Hermosa Beach, California; Tremont, Illinois; and Glenn Allen, Virginia of the Carver Subdivision.

About thirty students from seven Cleveland Metropolitan School District Schools went to Cuyahoga Community College’s Youth Technology Academy, after school and on weekends, to work with mentors and teachers into preparing for the contest. High school students on the team came from John Marshall, MC2STEM, John Adams, Design Lab Early College, John Hay, New Tech West, and East Tech.

George Bilokonsky, Executive Director or the Technology Academies at Cuyahoga Community College, says more that 70,000 students, from 24 different countries, participated in the four months of preparation and competition leading up to the world championship. 640 teams made it to the world championship in St. Louis for the final four days of the competition, said Bilokonsky. The Cleveland Cuyahoga Community College Youth Technology Academy team was the first Ohio team to win the world championship in the 25 years of the contest, said Bilokonsky.

Bilokonsky says the number of experienced students on the varsity team this year helped to win the world championship. He said, with a 120-pound limit on the weight of the robot, students realized that if they could lighten the weight of the frame of their robot, they could include more in the guts of the machine. Students used a CAMaster to stamp out a pattern in the metal frame to make it lighter, he said.

The competition this year involved the theme of attacking a castle, said Bilokonsky. Students were asked to build a robot that could storm a castle. The robot would have to knock down and go over obstacles, use a catapult arm to throw boulders, and a grappling hook to scale walls.

Bilokonsky said that in the district and regional competitions leading up to the championship competition, the Cleveland team’s robot was not yet capable of doing all of the tasks it needed to win the world championship. Bilokonsky said he gives the team credit for continuing to add capabilities to their robot as they went deeper into the competition. First, they concentrated on driving the robot. Then, they perfected the robot’s ability to throw a ball. The Friday morning before the world championship competition the students were able to get the grappling hook up and working, said Bilokonsky.

The FIRST website,, describes the final round of the completion:

“The four-day event came down to a heart-pounding conclusion Saturday night in front of a roaring crowd of more than 40,000 when four teams from Hermosa Beach, California; Tremont, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio; and Glen Allen, Virginia of the Carver Subdivision won the coveted FIRST Robotics Competition Championship Winning Alliance.

“In this year’s game, FIRST STRONGHOLDSM, Alliances worked together to breach their opponents’ fortifications, weaken their tower, and capture the opposing tower. Robots scored points by breaching opponents’ defenses and tossing boulders through goals in the opposing tower. During the final 20 seconds of the match, robots were allowed to surround and scale the opposing tower to capture it.”

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