Two local teens take talent to World comp.

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By Brad Bowman

Andrew Combs and Caeleb Smith had a fascination for technology at an early age.

The two Henry County students recently competed at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, FIRST World Championship in St. Louis.

The students, part of a six county engineering team, designed, built and programmed a robot to throw Frisbees into slots on a 50 ft. X 25 ft. field and climb a 10-foot-tall pyramid.

“We had a motor driving a wheel that the Frisbee would go into with curved wall to shoot it out,” Combs said. “We used labVIEW programming, a visual programming language from National Instruments. We had vision cues for the robot on the field to shoot at the goals.”

The students’ team, the Engineers of Tomorrow Team 2738, is part of a FIRST organization founded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen.

The team participated in regional competitions in Cincinnati and St. Louis before securing a place at the world championship with 300 teams from across the globe.

Team 2738 participates in engineering programs such as the FIRST Lego League for children ages 6-9 to the First Robotics Competition for high school students.

Students learn programming, mechanical engineering and use skills like Computer Aided Design to build 3-D models for their robots.

Team 2738 students work with adult mentors in the building, fabrication and programming process.

Smith gladly floats in the different compartments of the team.

“I just like being able to think of something, making it and seeing it work,” he said. “I like the creativity of making something from nothing.”

Smith first participated with the FIRST Lego League and works in his fourth year as a student leader over the mechanical and electronic teams in the building process.

Combs first participated in the FIRST Tech program in the 8th grade working with smaller robots. He started with the team two years ago and created a team of programmers where in the past the team would have only one programmer.

Past students from Team 2,738 have received scholarship money from universities to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Combs and Smith seek to do the same.

“I am going to the J.B. School of Engineering after I graduate,” Smith said. “I want to study computer engineering and computer science. I found out that my scholarship money will carry over into my fifth year so I can get my masters there too.”

Smith has one more year before he graduates and wants to go into mechanical engineering.

“I want to go into mechanical engineering after I graduate because it is the wider part of the engineering world,” Smith said. “I like using CAD and designing different things instead of singling out just one area of engineering.”

After graduating from college, Combs is unsure of what specific job he will pursue.

“I’m not 100 percent sure of what I would want to do as a dream job,” Combs said. “I want to go into control systems and possibly the space program. I guess my dream job, even though I would never see it happen, would be chief engineer on a starship.”

Team 2783 won the Engineering Inspiration Award, the Entrepreneurship Award and Industrial Safety Award at the regional competitions.

The team includes students from Henry, Bullitt, Jefferson and Oldham Counties and a student from Clark County, Indiana. The team is open to all high school students.

Team 2783 will host an open house 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 25.


For more information visit their website at: kyeot.org.