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Preparing for the Future Today

By Jessica Atkinson, Coordinator, AIDB Marketing and Community Relations, Office of Institutional Advancement

Aleura Hughes, ASD, collaborates with another competitor during aerial robotics.From electric vehicles to artificial intelligence, it is no secret that the future will be shaped by advances in technology. It is also no surprise that the experiences students participate in inform their development and understanding of the world around them.

This school year, the Alabama School for the Deaf robotics teams had the unique opportunity to travel to states across the country and compete in nationwide robotics competitions.

In January, the Middle School VEX IQ Robotics Team, comprised of 7th graders Aiden Sizemore-Natalie and Elijah Padgett, traveled to the Tennessee School for the Deaf to compete at the 5th National Technical Institute for the Deaf Regional Stem Center (NRSC) VEX IQ Competition. This exciting event, hosted for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, featured opening and awards ceremonies, practice sessions, and a trip to a trampoline park to relax and socialize.

“The competition was fun but a little tough,” said Padgett. “We got to partner with other teams in the competition and had fun at the trampoline park. I enjoyed meeting new people from all over the country.”

In February, the High School VEX V5 Robotics Team, comprised of sophomore student Alex Beasley and junior Brayden Weeks flew to the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe, Kansas for the 6th Annual High School VEX Robotics Competition.

“I had a great time,” said Weeks. “I learned new things related to coding and building our robot.”

February also saw the two Underwater Robotics Teams, comprised of freshman Levi Smith, junior David Vaden, freshman Harper Walls and sophomore Brayden Weeks, fly to the NRSC ROV Tournament at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, Texas. During the competition, team Alabama, comprised of freshman Harper Walls and junior David Vaden, received the good sportsmanship award.

Texas School for the Deaf also hosted the NRSC Aerial Drones Competition in early March. The Alabama School for the Deaf Drones Teams, comprised of eighth-grade student Aluera Hughes, freshman Jessica Mesino, freshman Levi Smith and junior David Vaden, flew to Austin, Texas to take on over 40 teams from across the country. After much anticipation, Levi and David's team would take home the Judges Award. This prestigious award is given to the team with the best answers to the interview questions during the competition.

From Alabama to Kansas, Tennessee, Texas and beyond, the Alabama School for the Deaf Robotics teams are ready for wherever the future of technology may lead!