Faculty Member Introduces Japanese Children to Albuquerque-born RoboRAVE

December 10, 2014 -- The Czech Republic, Alburquerque, Spain (yes, there’s an extra “R” in Alburquerque, Spain), and now Kaga, Japan. CNM faculty member Fabian Lopez has once again traveled to far parts of the world to spread the word about the Albuquerque-born RoboRAVE.
July 16, 2015

RoboRAVE is a robot competition in which students design robots that face off in various contests.

Lopez and Russ Fisher-Ives, co-founders of RoboRAVE, and Mao Jong, director of RoboRAVE Asia, spent nine days in November in Japan training high school students to become mentors for 100 elementary kids who were going to customize pre-built robots in a “play shop.” The robots competed the next day in Japan’s first RoboRAVE contest.

Last November he was in Alburquerque, Spain, and the year before that in the Czech Republic encouraging the countries to join in the competition.

copy_of_robowave1.jpgLopez co-founded the New Mexico RoboRAVE (Robots Are Very Educational) in 2001 with Fisher-Ives, a retired Rio Rancho teacher, and Chris Brady, a Rio Rancho technology teacher. It grew from 25 high school students and three teachers in a Rio Rancho middle school gym to more than 1,600 students participating in the 2014 competition held at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The competition is now called RoboRAVE International because it attracts students beyond New Mexico, including places like Columbia, China, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Spain. Japan has committed to hosting a country-wide competition there in 2015.

At the Japanese competition in November, the third- through fifth-graders worked in teams of two and three to customize basic robots with sensors and other technologies. The robots then competed in three different categories: Ping Pong Ball Deposit – sensor-loaded robots carrying ping pong balls follow a black line to find a tower where they deposit the balls; Jousting – robots joust to knock each other over; and Track Following – robots follow tracks laid out with tape.

The top teams received first place, second place and third place recognitions in each category.

Lopez said the RoboRAVE competition was quite popular among the residents of Kaga,Japan. A local television station news crew showed up to do a story, and the event started with welcome remarks by the mayor of Kaga and the Kaga superintendent of schools.

“They saw RoboRAVE as a way to bring people to the city and a way to help keep young people from leaving,” Lopez said.