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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 12:31 p.m., Monday, November 19, 2007

Hilo student robotics team wins awards at Japan event

Advertiser Staff

Waiakea High School's Robotics team this month took a first-place award in the 16th annual International Microbot competition held in Japan.

Facing off against several college teams from across Asia, students representing the Hilo school won the "Fully Autonomous Micro Robot Maze Competition," with a robot named "Teeny Humuhumu."

The team took third place in the "Micro Robot Racer" competition, with a robot named Stich.05; fifth place, "Remote Controlled MicroRobot Maze Competition," with Teeny Humuhumu; and a special judges' award for best effort.

The judging panel included Mikio Horie, Tokyo Institute of Technology; Tyzh-jong Tarn, Washington University in St. Louis, Center for Robotics and Automation; Fumihito Arai, Tohoku University, Deptartment of Bioengineering and Robotics; and Art Kimura, Education Specialist, Hawaii Space Grant Consortium, University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

The competition, held in Nagoya, revolved around the building and control of miniature robots. One challenge restricted volume to one cubic inch. A more rigorous challenge set the bar at one cubic centimeter.

Waiakea High's team applied engineering, electronics, and programming skills to complete the job. Among other things, they used PIC programming, which is found in calculators, electronic watches and other small electrical gadgets.

Waiakea alumni and UH-Manoa graduate Riley Ceria — now a CalTech Sub-Millimeter Observatory electrical engineer — served as a mentor for the students, who have learned to make their own circuit boards, solder on tiny parts, debug the robots and program them to complete the tasks in the challenge.