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Teenagers begin robotics journey at Murdoch

Students with Ben Morton building a robot at a table

Teenagers with a passion for robotics, science and teamwork are building their skills and connections with Murdoch University while designing and constructing a robot.

High school students  have been gathering on Murdoch University's campus at weekends and the school holidays since March to build a robot they hope will compete in the Duel Down Under contest in late July.

Federal MP for Tangney and Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet The Hon Ben Morton recently visited the students to see how the project was progressing.

“It's fantastic to see programs like the FRC here in our community giving young people the chance to reach their full potential, travelling to national and international competitions to compete,” Mr Morton said.

Student mentoring

The students have been mentored throughout the four-month build by Murdoch staff and students, and by industry representatives with expertise across disciplines including computing, programming, engineering, mining, business, agriculture and communications.

Team leader and Murdoch academic Dr David Berryman said in designing, building and operating the robot, the teenagers have been putting into practice valuable life skills like collaboration, public speaking and teamwork, as well as building their confidence and technical know-how.

“I have seen first-hand how students involved in preparing for robotics competitions develop into confident, multi-skilled young adults,” Dr Berryman said.


“It is not just about creating a sophisticated robot; the students have also been promoting their work on social media and even developing design logos and a range of marketing tools.

“They have also been looking for sponsorship opportunities to help pay for parts.”

Duel Down Under

The Duel Down Under contest will take place in Sydney from 26 to 28 July and is part of the global First Robotics Competition (FRC). These contests bring together high school students and mentors to build robots that perform in a competitive but gracious environment against teams from all over the world.

In the contest, the robots will be required to perform skills such as transporting goods safely from one location to another and manoeuvring on and off platforms.

Seed funding for the Murdoch team was made possible by the Vice Chancellor’s Small Steps of Innovation funding program – an internal small grants scheme which aims to enhance student and staff experiences.

Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen wished the team luck and thanked Dr Berryman and his team of mentors for guiding the students.

“For these teenagers considering university, being a part of the Murdoch team has been invaluable,” Professor Leinonen said.

“As well as all the fun involved in building the robot, the experience has helped the pupils make links with our staff and students, learn firsthand about our courses and gain an insight into life on campus.”

Next steps for robotics

Dr Berryman is aiming to enter a Murdoch hosted team into the main FRC next year, which will see participants design and build their robots in just six weeks.

Plans are underway for the robot currently under construction to go on to be used as a platform for agricultural research in Murdoch University’s Centre for Crop and Food Innovation, also giving the high school students the chance to be involved in translational agricultural technology research.

To find out how to support and sponsor the team, contact Dr Berryman at d.berryman@murdoch.edu.au.
Posted on:

1 Jul 2019

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