Honors C++ Class Finishes Third in the NASA/MIT Zero Robotics Challenge
Posted 01/26/2012 11:10AM

Monday morning, the Honors C++ class got to watch their code be applied to satellites in space this morning from the International Space Station! The class competed in the final round of the NASA/MIT Zero Robotics challenge.

The SPHERES Challenges are held every fall and open world-class research facilities on the International Space Station to high-school students. Students create code and program small satellites to play a challenging game in zero gravity conditions. The goal is to build critical engineering skills such as problem solving, team work, design thought process and operations training in students. This particular challenge began in September.

During the first three rounds of the tournament, the Mount Saint Joseph team climbed steadily in the standings. The team was the second biggest upward mover in the tournament during the early rounds.

The top 54 teams advanced to the semifinals and were then grouped into three tiers by rank. Groups from Tier 1 were asked to partner with a group from Tier 2 and Tier 2 groups were asked to partner with a group from Tier 3 – creating Alliances consisting of a group from each tier.

The 18 American Alliances competed both against each other and against nine Alliances from Europe, vying for nine spots on the International Space Station. Mount Saint Joseph worked within an Alliance with two other schools – Lexington Christian Academy in Massachusetts and Falmouth High School in Maine.  This Alliance ranked fifth among American teams and seventh when counting the Europeans after the semi-final round. The final ranking allows them to compete against others on January 23rd, when astronauts on the International Space Station will run their code on actual sphere satellites in zero gravity.

“It’s a great opportunity for the students to apply engineering, math, physics, and computer science concepts in a really cool tournament,” said Mr. George Kapusinski, Computer Science teacher and mentor to the Mount Saint Joseph team. “Here at Mount Saint Joseph, we believe in academic excellence and these results demonstrate that we can compete with the top schools in the country.”

Mount Saint Joseph and its Alliance placed third in the NASA/MIT Zero Robotics Challenge. The top three teams were only separated by three points, making it a very close competition.

Congratulations, gentlemen!

Articles were written on this topic by both the Catonsville Times and Examiner.com.