Steel Hawks steal the show at Maker Faire

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Maker Faire, aptly proclaimed as “The Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth,” gathered together thousands of technology enthusiasts on October 1 and 2. The festival, which is renowned for being part science fair and part county fair, began in San Mateo, California in 2006. The founder and Chief Executive Officer of Maker Media, Inc., Dale Dougherty, and his fellow editors at MAKE Magazine created the event in an effort to open a new forum where the invisible but impressive engineering feats and experimentation that would otherwise go unnoticed would be accessible.

Through this gathering of engineers, tech enthusiasts, and students in a monolithic festival teeming with games, interactive exhibitions, and cooperative learning, Maker Faire spread not only across the United States, but also overseas to South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

The Townsend Harris High School Steel Hawks participated in the flagship Maker Faire event at Flushing Meadows- Corona Park, where they showcased last year’s robot, “Red Tail.” They demonstrated capabilities that the robot flaunted in the arena, such as its overall maneuverability and versatility in the claw arm. In participating, the Steel Hawks were also on an outreach mission to inform the attendees on the fun aspects of engineering, how the acceptance of diversity on the team acts as a catalyst to promote cooperation in building such amazing machines, and their vision of the bright future in the field of robotics.

Physics teacher and robotics coach Joshua Raghunath commented, “the goals of Robotics and Maker Faire are closely aligned because they both urge people to create ingenuitive solutions for problems, ranging from the everyday ones like improving modes of travelling between work and home to the extremely major like developing prosthetic organs or prolonging the human lifespan.”

Mr. Raghunath went onto further to describe the important use of robotics in the future as “humans would probably make use of robotic limbs to make life more streamlined as the aging factor would become largely downplayed in society, and even sooner would be the rapid accessibility of robotic assistants in the household to do things like the laundry and the dishes so we wouldn’t have to [do them] any more.” In response to the idea of robotics playing a major part in our future lives, Junior team member Justin Eng added, “Robots will no longer be reserved for industrial capacities and be made more accessible to everyone as skills like CAD (Computer Aided Design) and programming become taught in a more uniform manner across the US, they might even become as necessary to know as reading and writing [are].”

Besides the Steel Hawks being a major exhibition at the festival, other important robotics teams like StuyPulse of Stuyvesant High School and the TechKnights of Brooklyn Technical High School were in attendance with similar outreach goals. Companies like Google and Raspberry Pi showed off the advancements they have made in drone and robot accessibility by hosting “Build Your Own Drone” and “Build Your Own Robot” stands, where participants could use simple kits to construct drones and robots in under twenty-five minutes.

In addition, 3D printing companies in attendance constructed viable prosthetic limbs with consumer-grade printers in a matter of hours and also made use of special chocolate filaments to produce edible chocolate bars and cookies. There was also a market for spare motorcycle parts, where numerous CNC mills demonstrated the cutting-edge in laser cutting technology.

The Steel Hawks hope to attend future Maker Faire events and expand the way they interact with visitors by continuing to innovate as fast as the festival does by coming up with new games and technologies to amaze the next generation of roboticists.

Junior team member Sabiq Shahab feels strongly about the robotics team being showcased at Maker Faire. “We serve to educate and inspire children with the core messages of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in order to propagate better innovations, and thus lead to a better world,” he said.