ISU Headlines

ISU grad student Gentle mentors champion prep robotics squad

Posted April 15, 2009

Idaho State University engineering graduate student Jake Gentle is working alongside many Pocatello School District No. 25 teachers to mentor the Haywire Robotics team, comprised of students from Pocatello’s three high schools.

The team recently won first place at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Seattle Regional robotics competition and will now travel to Atlanta for the FIRST international championships on April 15-18.Collage of the Haywire Robotics team in action. More than 1,600 teams from around the world competed over the last four weeks for this opportunity. There are now 344 teams qualified for the international championships, including the Haywire Robotics team.

The international championship prizes include more than $9 million in college scholarships at more than 130 universities and technical institutions.

Gentle is able to accomplish his tutoring thanks to an ISU National Science Foundation grant. The NSF-funded ISU GK-12 project provides $30,000 Fellowships to 11 graduate students at ISU in engineering, biological sciences, geosciences, mathematics and chemistry each year.  In return, each student partners with teachers and schools in the local school districts and provides 10 hours per week of special projects, activities and field trips in science, engineering and math. The goal of the grant is to enhance scientific literacy in southeast Idaho, from grade school through graduate school.

Haywire Robotics team.“It’s really pretty awesome, working with these kids. A lot of the things they do are surprising,” Gentle said. “They’re capable of such creative ideas, it’s really amazing. As I go through the engineering program, I find I lose that creativity sometimes, so it’s nice to see younger students still capable of the drive to create new things.”

Gentle has been mentoring at Highland since August of 2008, and only started working with the robotics team in January, when they began meeting.

“I was hoping that with this position, I would be teaching more, but in reality, they are teaching me,” Gentle said. “They’ve taught me so much about team building and whatnot. It’s pretty amazing.”

For more information, contact Rosemary Smith at 282-4918 or smitrose@isu.edu, or Mikle Ellis at 282-4296 or ellimikl@isu.edu.