Carmel Valley resident Michael Zeng is celebrating his enthusiasm for robotics and sharing that love with some others, profitable a national award in the method.
Michael, 17, an incoming senior at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, is the co-captain of a nearby To start with Tech Obstacle robotics staff identified as The Clueless.
Through robotics contests, the group is tasked with design and style, building, programming and operation of a robotic to contend against other teams’ robots.
The Clueless gained the FTC San Diego regional championship this calendar year just after profitable the Arizona regional championship and keeping just one of the 5 best scores globally in 2020.
For his leadership and expertise with robotics, Michael gained a person of 10 national Dean’s Listing awards in the First Tech Problem Robotics Competitiveness in the course of the FTC 2021 awards exhibit in June.
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“The spirit of the Dean’s Checklist award is getting other people engaged in what we’re performing,” Michael explained. In addition to demonstrating technical prowess, “a massive factor of the Dean’s Listing award is genuinely advertising the spirit of STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] in your group.”
Michael said he’s attained this by way of his team’s aim, which “is not just making our individual robots but serving to other individuals establish their robots.”
“One of our beloved occasions just about every year,” he mentioned, is when The Clueless hosts a summertime camp for Initially Lego League, “which is form of like a more youthful edition of Very first Tech Obstacle.”
Through the weeklong camp, “we recruit about 20 college students from about the region and we teach them the basics of FLL mechanics and programming,” Michael mentioned. “A the greater part of pupils go on to sign up for school groups or even formed their individual teams.”
Michael himself is a previous FLL college student, obtaining joined his elementary school’s FLL workforce in fifth grade. “What’s very humorous about my story is that in my initially-at any time year of FLL and my 1st-at any time competitors, my group put very last at the qualifier,” he explained.
However, the disappointing end spurred Michael’s fascination in robotics. “That summer months, I pretty much expended hundreds of hrs just browsing YouTube and seeking at what the finest robots did, and I came again upcoming yr a great deal more robust,” he reported.
In seventh grade, Michael began his very own team and gained for robot overall performance at the Southern California regional competitiveness. He then commenced a YouTube channel motivated by the movies that ignited his curiosity.
“My objective was very much to develop into one of the individuals that I assumed was really legendary that motivated me as soon as,” he said. His YouTube channel, bit.ly/MZengYT, now has extra than 1,250 subscribers and extra than 360,000 views.
“I genuinely did attain my aim with that channel,” Michael stated.
In pursuing his passion for robotics, Michael explained he has created an arsenal of complex expertise, like proficiency with laptop or computer-aided style and design, primary to his present-day placement as the team’s design lead.
Aside from mechanical and software package skills, Michael said “the most useful point that I’ll be using away is leadership. My staff is presently 15 users and the period lasts 30 months, so it’s definitely not an effortless job to be performing with these types of a massive workforce over these types of a extensive interval of time.”
“We’re seeking to create a really aggressive robot,” he said. “At the exact same time, we want to preserve great associations with our coaches and mentors and sponsors and proceed all our efforts outdoors of our very own group,” these types of as web hosting the summer camp and other activities in the course of the year.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael also started a job termed “Print for the Cure” (printforthecure.com), a website system in which people today who require personal protecting gear this kind of as gloves and masks — professional medical and other vital staff — can fill out a form and request it.
Any individual with a 3-D printer can then “sign on to the web site and declare these requests and ship instantly to these requesters,” Michael claimed.
“We essentially constructed a internet site in about 3 months and launched it,” Michael claimed. The team’s own 3-D printers and these of others have “collectively donated more than 25,000 units, which includes issues like door handles, encounter shields as properly as the mask straps” that relieve pressure on ears.
“It was a ton of do the job,” he mentioned, “but truly a worthwhile and proud knowledge.”
“Robotics has unquestionably been a lifestyle-transforming working experience,” Michael said. He extra that he hopes his mentorship assists other folks cultivate a equivalent like of robotics that will “open up a pathway for them in the foreseeable future.”
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