Students at Wausau West High School have been recognized by MIT for a unique invention... a snow shoveling robot. The students say their engineering achievement is just the start.
Wausau West senior Ethan Klein moves the joysticks on a controller back and forth, and watches the snow shoveling robot spin in circles, move forward, and back up. He calls the motion as he does so:"It's spinning with the left wheel running. I press the right stick, it's going to operate the right wheel, so it turns left here. And as you push both of them, you can pull it forward."
There's a transmitter and receiver, an electric motor, and a plow attached to the base of a donated wheel chair. Technology and engineering education teacher Theran Peterson says the students did most of the work themselves.
"I gave them the task of coming up with a solution for a real world problem," Peterson said. "Their job was then to take their idea and run with it."
The robot was recognized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which gave the students $10,000 to take the idea one step further. Peterson says they will try to build a new robot that guides itself, shoveling snow by GPS technology. "As put forth by MIT, the goal is to have a working prototype by the end of year. What we're looking for, is we're just looking to develop that inventive spirit in the students."
Ethan Klein says the students are learning more than just nuts and bolts engineering. "It's a great educational experience for me. Teamwork especially has been a huge factor, working together, because it's not just you working on the project. It's all about the team working together."
The team gets to travel to MIT in June. Wausau West is one of 15 schools nationwide to get the $10,000 prize.