By MITCH TRAPHAGEN
The Lennard Robotics Club, a fledgling club of science-minded students founded by Lennard High School teacher (and former rocket scientist) James Reve, has continued making its mark on the world, competing last weekend in an engineering expo at the University of South Florida. The Lennard Club took home several awards for its efforts, competing against a professional team from Miami and college graduate students.
The remarkable success was the ultimate show of appreciation for the outpouring of support received from the South Hillsborough community.
“The community turned out for us, they gave us money and equipment, and without that money and equipment, we would not have been able to do this,” Reve said to his students. “We would not have been able to win these awards.”
Taking a first-place award for a 15-pound robot named Goliath were Joseph Fiquerua and Luis Santiago. Taking second place for a three- to five- pound robot named L-BLOCK were Jefferson Vance, Fernando Paladino and Silvania Valcrio. Winning second place in the balsa bridge competition — a 103-gram bridge that held up to 139 pounds — were Heriberto Amescua and Sebastian Garcia.
There are now approximately 40 members of the Lennard Robotics Club. With the donations from the community, additional students were recently allowed to join, as the club is limited by their available resources.
Among the donations received from the community was an electric wheelchair. The students have already decided to use it for the basis to create a robotic Longhorn bull — the school’s mascot. According to Reve, plans for the robotic bull include making steam emerge from its nostrils.
On Monday, the students were clearly excited by their success at the USF competition. Before becoming a teacher, Reve was part of the team that created the Cassini mission, a spacecraft that is currently orbiting Saturn and has set new boundaries in science. Seeing the students smiling and laughing, when asked how this compares to Cassini, Reve said, “This is way better.”
Because the Robotics Club is an extracurricular activity, Hillsborough County School is not able to provide direct funding, thus the need for community support. Donations of equipment and money are greatly appreciated. The club is also interested in hearing from anyone who may have had a robotics or engineering career and would be willing to speak to the club or mentor students.
Checks may be made out to “Lennard Robotics” and dropped off at the school or sent to Lennard High School, 2342 East Shell Point Road, Ruskin, FL 33570.