Robinson Students Place Second in the Nation

Robinson Students Place Second in the Nation


Michael Sherburne on left, Andy Artze center, Exus Altimus on right.

A team from James W. Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, recently placed second in the Nation in Systems Control Technology. The competition was held in Nashville, Tenn., at the Gaylord Resort on June 24. The competition is part of Technology Student Association (TSA) which is a National STEM Engineering program. The team members are: Michael Sherburne, Andy Artze, and Exus Altimus. The team also placed second in the Nation last year in Dallas. They also competed at the National level in 2009 in Denver and placed sixth in the Nation. The team won 1st place at the State level in 2009, 2011, and 2012. They placed 2nd in the State in 2008. They won 1st place at the Regional level in 2009 and 2011. They placed second place at the Regional level in 2012. They placed third place at the Regional level in 2008 and in 2010.

Systems Control Technology is a rigorous event. Competitors have 15 minutes to read and come up with a solution to a problem. Then they have two hours and thirty minutes to build and program a prototype that solves the solution, followed by an interview with the judges. This year's problem at the National level was to design a distribution center that sorts packages based on size and the package's size determines which way it will go through the system. It must be able to detect the presence of a package and then be able to sort it. The system has to be able to detect the package at the loading dock and make a light flash ever five seconds to signal to truck drivers that there is a package ready for them to be picked up. The system must have an emergency turn off switch to shut down the whole system during night hours or for emergency. The team came up with a brilliant idea of using mechanical pushing arms to sort the packages, which will then fall down a chute to their respective docking location.

Michael Sherburne is the team captain and the main programmer for the competition. He also sells the prototype to the judges at the end of the competition. He is self-taught. Exus Altimus, also self-taught helps with the programming and does the building. Andy Artze does most of the building and is also self-taught.