photo courtesy Allicia Sidarta TALON 540 cheers on their teammates during a meet.

photo courtesy Allicia Sidarta
TALON 540 cheers on their teammates during a meet.

“Robotics is not about building robots. The robots are a means to build each other and build the community around us,” said senior Andrew Miller, captain of TALON 540.

This year the Godwin robotics team, TALON 540, has been taking the world of robotics by storm.

The team was founded 17 years ago as a research project for two students in the Godwin specialty center and now has over 60 members. The team focuses on helping students learn lifelong skills that they do not receive in a normal academic setting.

“I enjoy seeing students grow and mature into wonderful individuals who will give back to their community and make it a better place,” said Henry Hurlburt, lead teacher and mentor of the team.

To TALON 540, giving back to the community is just as important as robot construction. Between seasons, in addition to improving their skills, TALON 540 participates in various activities through community service with middle schools, activities in the community itself, and activities at Godwin.

“I see our outreach programs going international as we are starting to make a name for ourselves worldwide,” said senior Shreyas Kulkarni, Electrical and Sensor leader of the team.

In the past year, the team has won several awards, including the 2017 Chesapeake District Championship Engineering Inspiration Award at Deep Run, the 2017 Chesapeake District Championship Semifinalist at Deep Run, the 2017 Chesapeake District Competition Winner in Blacksburg, and the 2016 World Championship Entrepreneurship Award.

TALON 540 is 95 percent student run, and without millions of dollars, big-budget sponsors, or space shuttle engineers to guide them, TALON 540 still succeeds in their many endeavors through their diligence in robotics and outreach to their community.

“Other teams have special facilities sponsored by Boeing or NASA, but we work with our hard drive to get stuff down,” said Kulkarni.

TALON 540 recently competed in the 2017 FIRST Chesapeake District Championships. The competition took place April 6 through April 8 and was held at VCU’s Siegel Center.

The competition was fierce and though the team did not do as well as they had hoped in some areas, their diligence and determination was showcased in other aspects of the competition.

Ojas Amberkar, the Outreach and Awards student leader was chosen to represent the FIRST Chesapeake District at the 2017 World Championships.

The World Championships will take place in St. Louis, Mo. later this month. Amberkar will represent the district as a Dean’s List Finalist.

This is the third year in a row that the team has been selected to send a member to the World Championship. Amberkar will be representing our state and district at the competition.

“Overall I am proud of what our team has accomplished this season and look forward to next year. I can’t wait to see what changes, ideas, and awesome things our students will dream up and accomplish,” said Hurlburt.

The team also plans to make an improved t-shirt robot to take to sporting events and use in order to promote the school and the robotics team.

TALON 540 hopes to see their outreach programs go international and want to make a name for themselves worldwide.

“I see the team having a very successful future due to our highly motivated students,” said junior Amruta Ponugupati, the Business Project Manager of the team.

As they continue the team plans to select a dynamic leadership team, improve and modify the training program, and continue to improve and implement the team’s new boosters.

“I am honored and proud to be the lead teacher and mentor of our first Robotics team, I am glad to have a small part of an organization and family that inspires folks, both young and old, to pursue STEM related fields or interests making the world a better place one robot at a time,” said Hurlburt.


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