2012-13 List of Competitors

Below is the list of teams registered for the 2012-13 Sample Return Robot Challenge. If you belong to a media outlet and would like to connect with a local team to share their story, please contact Eileen Brangan Mell (ebmell@wpi.edu), WPI Director of Public Relations.

In alphabetical order by team name (as of 5/23/2013)

Active Competitors:

  • Fetch – Alexandria, VA
    • Team Leader: James Leopore
    • Team Members: 1
    • What would your team do with the prize money? Apply it towards commercializing some of the methods used towards problems in agriculture and manufacturing.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? I work on OCR and computer vision applications as a software developer; my worst former job involved filling in for a broken robot in an aspirin bottle factory.
    • What does your team expect to gain by participating in this Challenge? One of those giant novelty checks.
  • Intrepid Systems – Lynnwood, WA
    • Team Leader: Mark Curry
    • Team Members: 2
    • What would your team do with the prize money? If we could recoup our investment that would be just great all by itself. Beyond that, the sky is the limit…
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? We’re really just a one-man show from a technical standpoint.. with Ai-Shan helping on all the other myriad details that need to be taken care of on a project this size.
    • How did your team meet and/or decide to join together in this challenge? It seemed like a great challenge that fit our interests, and that while difficult, was doable in the time available. Autonomous exploration by robotic explorers has always fascinated me.
  • Kuukulgur* – Estonia
    • Team Leader: Ahti Heinla
    • Team Members: 5
    • What would your team do with the prize money? We’re a non-US team, so would not get the monetary prize anyway.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? Priit and Ahti were founding engineers of Skype, and have known each other for 25 years. Maris is doing her PhD on architectural restoration, but that does not stop her from building robots in her spare time.
    • How did your team members become interested in robotics? Ronald’s university studies concentrated on robotics. He won the Robotex 2012 competition in Estonia. Ahti and Maris competed at Robotex too. Lauri had been building an autonomous UAV. Mostly it is just an incredibly cool field of technology to work on.
  • Middleman – Dunedin, FL
    • Team Leader: Jerry Waechter
    • Team Members: 1
    • What would your team do with the prize money? Provide research funding for robotics systems development for our new company.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? I am extremely proud of all the kids with whom I have worked building robots for FIRST competitions.
    • Explanation of the team name: As team lead, I have put my personal feelings into the team name. For nearly 12 years I have volunteered with FIRST robotics as a part of Team-79. Now I am transitioning into using my skills in the field of automation to build and sell domestic, industrial, and competition Robotic systems. This NASA Centennial Challenge places me between these two activities. Thus I am reminded of the lyrics to the Bee Gees song… “I’m just the man in the middle/Of a complicated plan”
  • Mystic Lake Robots – The Woodlands, TX
    • Team Leader: Rud Merriam
    • Team Members: 1
    • What would your team do with the prize money? Replenish the retirement accounts used to fund the project, make some charitable contributions, and take a cruise or vacation.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? The first robot Rud built consisted of two purple inbox trays he found on the close-out rack at an office supply store. The robot, aptly named Purple, was driven by two servo motors and could carry a laptop computer.
    • What are the biggest obstacles your team has overcome to be successful in this challenge or in the field of robotics in general? The biggest challenge has been Rud convincing himself he could make a creditable effort.
  • SpacePRIDE – Graniteville, SC
    • Team Leader: Chris Williamson
    • Team Members: 4
    • What would your team do with the prize money? I (Chris) can’t speak for everyone, but my share would be used to pay off most everything, and then I would support our local innovation and technology sector, including CSRAMakers.com and HackAugusta.com
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? Chris has a Marvin the Martian Tattoo on his left shoulder. Rob and Chris first competed against each other in a small combat robotics event, and Rob won! Chris and Amanda’s first date was at a FIRST robotics meeting!
    • What does your team expect to gain by participating in this Challenge? We expect to gain more knowledge by competing. We brought back lots of new ideas by competing during year one. We also look to give back to our community and get more kids involved with technology. One of our biggest out reaches is to get more people involved in what we love doing.
  • Survey – Los Angeles, CA
    • Team Leader: Jascha Little
    • Team Members: 3
    • What would your team do with the prize money? Probably build more robots.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? I’m going to have to pressure the team for some stories. They haven’t
      given me any yet. Maybe we’re just boring people.
    • How did your team meet and/or decide to join together in this challenge? We work together, and we all thought the challenge sounded like a excellent way to solve the problem of what to do with all our free time.
  • Team AERO* – Worcester, MA
    • Team Leader: Velin Dimitrov
    • Team Members: 12
    • What would your team do with the prize money? Unfortunately, since we are all affiliated with WPI, we cannot win the prize money.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? Ty wanted to be a chef before starting WPI’s Robotics Engineering program. He is now pursuing his Master’s degree. RJ spent 10 years in the Air Force, and has worked a multitude of different jobs. Velin is bilingual.
    • How did your team members become interested in robotics? All of us have found interest in robotics through different backgrounds. Everyone’s story is different but it usually comes down to one teacher or professor who initially sparked interest in us. If someone truly enjoys doing something, it just takes a small push in the right direction and passion for the task will carry you the rest of the way.
  • UCSC Autonomous Rover Team – Santa Cruz, CA
    • Team Leader: Geoff Budd
    • Team Members: 6
    • What would your team do with the prize money? Pay off our student loans and fund our future graduate studies.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? We’re all senior undergraduates at UCSC from various engineering departments and all but one of us are transfer students from junior colleges.
    • How did your team members become interested in robotics? While we are all from varied majors, most of us have taken Prof. Gabriel Elkaims Mechatronics class at UCSC. While the class required a considerable amount of work, the rewards of having a robot that we built at the end of the class were worth it and encouraged us to continue to be interested in robotics.
  • University of Waterloo Robotics Team*- Canada
    • Team Leader: Steven Waslander
    • Team Members: 18
    • What would your team do with the prize money? Unfortunately, we don’t qualify, but we would likely have a big party and then use the rest to strengthen an already amazing University of Waterloo that has given us so much.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? For last year’s NSRRC, the team ate so many chicken McNuggets that the van began to smell, and they have come to the conclusion that no chicken McNuggets will be allowed at all this year. Once you have one, you can’t stop!
    • What is your favorite pop culture robot? Not so much pop-culture, but Opportunity and Curiosity inspire us
      immensely. Such unbelievable performance so far from home is awesome to have experienced.
  • Wunderkammer Laboratory- Topanga, CA
    • Team Leader: Jim Rothrock
    • Team Members: 2
    • What would your team do with the prize money? If I Had a Million Dollars…: If Rothrock walks away with the prize, he said paying off his mortgage would be a high priority, followed by developing a solid investment plan for the rest.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? Rothrock worked for nearly two decades in visual effects for the motion picture industry on films like “Titanic” and “Tron: Legacy.” He began to realize he wanted to work on real creations, not simulated ones. “I’d rather make a real robot than make a computer-generated robot,” he said.
    • What does your team expect to gain by participating in this Challenge? Coolness, glory, and money.

Inactive Competitors

  • Cyberdyne Systems – Pasadena, CA
    • Team Leader: Stephen Montero
    • Team Members: 1
    • What would your team do with the prize money? Invest in starting a real robotics company.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? I am an active BattleBots competitor, known as Team Jawbreaker.
    • What is your favorite pop culture robot? Robby the Robot based from my childhood
  • Friends of Elpenor – Arlington, MA
    • Team Leader: Harry Scott Berryman
    • Team Members: 2
    • What would your team do with the prize money? Build a better robot.
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? We are a father/daughter team who enjoy building things together.
    • How did your team members become interested in robotics? We are a family of geeks, and have always loved robotics.
  • RobotX – Prescott, AZ
    • Team Leader: Chris Correia
    • Team Members: 10
    • What would your team do with the prize money? Pay off our tuition!!
    • What are some fun facts about your team and it’s members? WE ARE ALL NERDS! Also, our team ranges from the age of 20 to 40ish, with a veteran on the team who came back to school for engineering!
    • How did your team meet and/or decide to join together in this challenge? Predetermined robotics preliminary/detail design team for the robotics senior design class at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. We, as a team, voted on this challenge which seems to be difficult and a true goal for a 10 man team to reach.

* = Demonstration Team