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Robotics Education Science

High School Kids Beat MIT at Robotics Competition 597

An anonymous writer submitted a story saying "A bunch of bright high school kids from Carl Hayden Highschool beat out MIT in a Marine Technology Center's Robotics competition. Here are additional details of the competition."
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High School Kids Beat MIT at Robotics Competition

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  • Look out!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by beatdown ( 788583 ) * on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:06AM (#12088460)
    Here come the Aquadorks!
  • by gr8_phk ( 621180 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:06AM (#12088462)
    must attend high school somewhere. Right?
    • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:09AM (#12088492)
      must attend high school somewhere. Right?

      Even granting that, it would indicate that said MIT education didn't make them any better. And think, all those student loans for nothing? ;)

      Obviously the entire story is somewhat facetious.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Going to college isn't to make you smarter, or more educated, it is to tell a future employer that you can put up with a bunch of BS for at least 4 years.

        • by mOdQuArK! ( 87332 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:34AM (#12088769)
          Depends on how seriously you took the education.

          Although I don't use (and in some cases understand :-) half the stuff they taught me, I feel like the act of trying to understand it increased my ability to understand a larger range of concepts - kind of like working out to increase muscle capacity.

          And the half that I _do_ use turned out be useful at occasionally very unexpected places. So I'm hopeful that I might be able to use some of the other half at some point in my future.
          • by Mr.Dippy ( 613292 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:45AM (#12088859)
            College hardly teaches you anything tangible(unless you major in something really technical). What college does is teach you how to think , solve future problems, and conduct research. All of these things are important for people not to be dumbasses in life.
          • Although I don't use (and in some cases understand :-) half the stuff they taught me, I feel like the act of trying to understand it increased my ability to understand a larger range of concepts - kind of like working out to increase muscle capacity.

            I got my degree in math, and I doubt I'll use the fact that I not only understand, but can prove
            The generalized Stokes Theorem [planetmath.org].

            However, the fact that I can read a sentence consisting of primarily goofy symbols even worse that the linked one makes me
        • I would agree if we are talking about going to your local State university. Going to a university like MIT ( or Harvard, Stanford, CalTech, Carnegie Mellon, etc...) better make you smarter and more educated. These schools have reputations to live up to and charge a LOT of money.

          OTOH I think you can learn things in college. The ultimate goal may be just to have that piece of paper for your resume, but you do have to sit through classes and stuff. It's all what you make of it.
          • by Rostin ( 691447 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @02:33PM (#12090953)
            A prof from a pretty highly ranked department in my field (chemical engineering) once told a friend and me that we were better off at a state school as undergraduates. Top research schools are more likely to allow TAs to teach courses so that their professors can be off doing what brings in the grant money. I've since heard others say the same thing, and I know that at my very poorly ranked (as in, not even in the top 50) state uni, TAs never taught lecture courses.

            So, I'm honestly not certain what the extra $$$ gets for you, at least in engineering. It's probably somewhat easier to get into good grad schools (which does make all the difference in the world), but even that effect is not especially pronounced. Two people in my graduating class went directly into MIT's PhD program. Probably the main things are networking (both with profs and other students), ego, and atmosphere.
            • by wan-fu ( 746576 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @03:47PM (#12092036)

              I think you have it quite backwards and this is due to the current folklore surrounding colleges such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT, etc. The common folklore is pretty much what you stated: professors don't teach classes, TAs do, and that it's all about 'the name' of attending the school.

              I attend one of these 'highly ranked' institutions and it has been a great experience. I've never had a class taught by a TA. In fact, all of my classes are taught by the professor. The big name professors are even willing to teach small seminars. For example, at Stanford, Osheroff (physics Nobel) teaches a small seminar that's related to optics and photography (one of his hobbies). Outside of lecture, one may deal with the TAs more, but most of the questions one would ask are adequately answered by the TAs. If one requires the professor's assistance, it might take some effort to setup a meeting time, but I've always seen them try hard to make time for students.

              Here's how I view the difference between a 'top' institution and your typical state school: one will get the same education at both schools. There's a huge caveat to this, that being at a state school, one will probably have to expend a good amount of effort to ensure that he receives the same education. For example, at Caltech, the math core that all students must take is far beyond any typical math requirement at a state school, and if one attended a state school, he would have to spend more effort to find the correct difficult courses to take.

              So, why pay the exorbitant amount of money to attend a so-called prestigious university? One word: opportunity. The opportunities afforded at a top university are exponentially greater than other schools. The top professors within the field have lots of knowledge to share; there is a great chance to network with both the faculty and one's peers. Definitely, as you mentioned, atmosphere is key, because everyone at these schools went there as "overachievers" (not that they are all overachievers, but they all share some type of 'drive' - if you get my gist) and being in such an environment, simple conversations can lead to interesting studies. I feel that the big difference in the opportunities available at a big-name school is research at the frontier with lots of available resources. At a small state school, if one wishes to do research in any field, the odds of finding a professor with a similar interest who is at the cutting edge and has resources to share is significantly smaller than at a top university where there are more research dollars coming in and cutting edge work happening every day. In addition, having the most current research being conducted at one's school allows more opportunities to see the frontier and learn about it in class. Finally, there is a great opportunity to listen and learn from others that one could not do at a state school. Big-name schools can draw people like Howard Dean or Bill Clinton or [insert visionary/scientist/social mover/etc. here] to speak at the school. While it's possible for a small state university to do so, I doubt you'll see Fresno State or whoever pull in more than one or two of such speakers a year whereas at Harvard, such people would be coming in year-round.

              Being able to do cutting edge work while learning in an atmosphere geared toward higher education and having the interaction with great professors and people is the difference. Whether or not one thinks it's worth it to pay big bucks to get that difference is an individual choice.

              • I like your post; I think it hits the nail fairly squarely on the head. I'll add my slight spin on things....

                I went to Camelback High School (Boo, Carl Hayden!) and then MIT. I was valedictorian of my high school but, like many, only a member of the rank and file at MIT. My point is, like Dirty Harry once said, "A man's got to know his limitations." I certainly learned mine at MIT; I wonder if I would have at ASU.

                Continuing in that direction, I'll recall the firehose analogy. Getting an education at MIT h
        • Well, college didn't make me smarter, it taught me how to analyze things, think things through thoroughly, and how to build lasting relationships. I did become considerably more educated also. I did not know how to manipulate C++ data structures prior to CS202 and I didn't understand the intricacies of x86 Assembly prior to Dr. Korntved's amazingly boring but infinitely educational class.

          I do believe, though, that it comes down to the individual's desire to learn and interest in being successful. I gr
      • it would indicate that said MIT education didn't make them any better

        ...at robot competitions. Maybe they have other talents.

      • Even granting that, it would indicate that said MIT education didn't make them any better. And think, all those student loans for nothing? ;)

        This reminds me of Good Will Hunting. LOL. "You could have got your Harvard education for 10 cents in library late fee's".

        I agree, I have met many people from the MIT's of the world, and they don't really impress me as better human beings than I've met elsewhere. In some cases, they were complete asshats. The problem is, everyone in highschool knows the next best

      • by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @02:03PM (#12090556) Journal
        It looks to me like this is a case of some ridiculously talented high school kids. They had some really good ideas and put them to use. The physics nerd really came in handy. :P

        On the other hand, it's also possible that there was a lower standard for a bunch of high school kids, whether intentionally or not. Let's face it, seeing some ghetto mexican kid spouting off about fluid dynamics and phase shift of helium aargon lasers is damned impressive -- much more so than a couple college students speaking at the same level, and that could certainly have been a factor.

        Anyway, considering that the MIT kids probably didn't start college as physics prodigies like christian or skilled in mechanics like the guy I'm too lazy to check the article for the name of, they certainly got their money's worth -- I know how to program reasonably well, does that mean that people who get compSci degrees are wasting their money? Others are great at electrical without schooling, does that mean that I'm wasting my money in EE? No. If it did, then we wouldn't have schools.
    • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:14AM (#12088546)
      RTFA, unless someone with $ steps up to the plate these are not future MIT students. They are currently in manual labor jobs and likely to stay there.

      These students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are unable to get into MIT. Half of them have graduated and they are not getting further education as they cannot afford it.
      • Surely there's scholarships available for people as bright as they are! There's TONS of money out there to be had, you just have to look for it.

        Not to mention any job an MIT grad will probably get will most likely pay for student loans in no time. You'd be foolish NOT to get one with interest rates around 3% these days!
        • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:25AM (#12088668)
          From the article (it is good, I suggest you read it) there are links to a scholarship fund for these 4 as well as comments in general on a proposed federal act. These families probably cannot even afford the 3% interest.

          Oscar wipes the white gypsum dust from his face. It's a hot Tuesday afternoon in Phoenix, and he's hanging sheetrock. He graduated from Carl Hayden last spring, and this is the best work he can find. He enjoys walking into the half-built homes and analyzing the engineering. He thinks it'll keep him sharp until he can save up enough money to study engineering at Arizona State University. It will cost him approximately $50,000 as an out-of-state student. That's a lot of sheet-rocking.

          Luis also graduated and is filing papers in a Phoenix Social Security Services office. Cristian and Lorenzo are now juniors. Their families can barely support themselves, let alone raise the money to send their kids to college. Last summer, Cristian's hopes flagged even further when his family was forced to spend $3,000 to replace the decrepit air-conditioning unit in their aluminum trailer. Without AC, the trailer turns into a double-wide oven in the desert heat.

          And they're not alone. Approximately 60,000 undocumented students graduate from US high schools every year. One promising solution, according to Cameron and other advocates for immigrant kids, is the Dream Act, federal legislation that would give in-state tuition and temporary resident status to undocumented students who graduate from a US high school after being enrolled in the States for five years or more. The bill, which was introduced in 2003 and is slated to be resubmitted this spring, aims to give undocumented students a reason to stay in school. If they do, the act promises financial assistance for college. In turn, immigrants would pay taxes and be able to contribute their talents to the US.

          Some immigration activists don't see it that way. Ira Mehlman, the Los Angeles-based media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, successfully lobbied against the legislation last year. He says it will put citizens and legal immigrants in direct competition for the limited number of seats at state colleges. "What will you say," he asks, "to an American kid who does not get into a state university and whose family cannot afford a private college because that seat and that subsidy have been given to someone who is in the country illegally?"
          • by KillerDeathRobot ( 818062 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:32AM (#12088742) Homepage
            So, why is it they can't apply for citizenship?

            Seriously, if they were legal citizens, I know there are lots of scholarships out there for hispanics particularly, and probably particularly for engineering too. MIT would be well within reach if they were legal citizens.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:39AM (#12088809)
              If you're here illegally, you're breaking the law and therefore can't apply for citizenship. They could go back to their own country for a while, then apply using the proper channels.

              Sucks to be these kids though, their parents probably dragged them along as little kids when they decided to break the law themselves.
            • Illegal immigrants generally can't apply for citizenship. They can apply to get permament resident status but that's a little tricky because it opens up the chance you can be deported. Also you need to have permanent resident status and if you are male register with the selective service to apply for Federal Financial aid. Illegal immigrants is good for America coz they provide cheap Wal*Mart labor and without the ability to go get a higher education, can't compete with other permament residents/ citizens
              • by Hyecee ( 809818 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @12:45PM (#12089559) Journal
                I can't tell whether or not you're trolling or actually believe that. Nothing will be good for the United States if it involves a lowering or loss of human rights. Sure, those hopelessly poor illegal immigrants won't be competing with more well off US citizens for higher paying jobs and educations paid for by citizens' taxes, but they will just end up in a cycle of poverty and all the troubles associated with it.

                The United States would be forever improved by accepting immigrants, making them citizens (gotta have those taxes), allowing them to become educated (not the same as just giving them an education; that's a whole other can of worms I do not wish to open) and helping them to become successful in our nation. There will ALWAYS be poorer or uneducated US citizens and immigrants to "provide cheap Wal*Mart labor", for a variety of reasons. You can look at it as a renewable workforce. This way, at least, there will be less competition for AVAILABLE low-end jobs for both groups with the possibility of making your way up the ladder through hard work. Poorer families won't be stuck in a poverty cycle, and can better their situation, or at least the situation for their descendants, and their position will be filled by others when they leave, be it a native citizen who's fallen on hard times, or another immigrant-turned-citizen.

                My point is, after that long-winded argument, is that the US will be better improved through aid and human rights than by a self-perpetuating low-income slave class of illegal immigrants.

                "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
          • All things considered, and I'm sure I'll get flamed for it, if they're undocumented they probably shouldn't have access to the same opportunities at public expense. I realize they're incredibily bright, but let them get documentation allowing them to be in the country legally before we spend public money on them. Private money is another matter, obviously, but they shouldn't have access to some of the federally and state funded programs that citizens (or documented persons) have access to.
            • by TykeClone ( 668449 ) * <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:45AM (#12088864) Homepage Journal
              I'd rather see a bright, talented, and driven "undocumented" person attend college than a lazy and unmotivated citizen.

              Same goes for illegal immigrants - if they are here because they want to work and do a good job and stay off of the public dole, more power to them and I have no problem with that.

              • "That's fine, just don't do it on my tax dollars."

                Hear hear! God knows our tax dollars shouldn't be used to support the demonstrably smart, hard-working children of illegal immigrants when it can go to people who haven't done anything to merit it besides being born in the right borders.
          • by drewzhrodague ( 606182 ) <drew.zhrodague@net> on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:47AM (#12088869) Homepage Journal
            I am a US Citizen, severely underemployed, and I cannot afford college either. While I applaud these kids for their efforts, I don't see why illegal aliens can get federal funding to go to college, and I cannot!

            Seriously. When I tried to get financial aid, I was awarded $200 in work-study, which doesn't even cover books for half a semester. It is difficult to apply for school, when you can't even pay your rent!
            • by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @12:15PM (#12089209)
              I call Bullshit.

              What state do you live in? In most states, if you spend two years at an ALMOST FREE Community College, you are granted automatic admission into a 4yr school. Do you have any idea how much Grant/Loan money for higher education goes un-used every year?

              I suggest you are not trying hard enough. Getting an education in America is easy, provided you are willing to work your ass off to get it done.

              Heard of Google? I suggest you get busy, or stop BS'ing us about how hard it is to pay for College. You are not trying hard enough. If you are in a situation where you cant, or can barely pay your rent, you can probably end up in a Community College FREE OF CHARGE. So, get on it.

            • I know how you feel.

              Junior College, and get a better paying job. I worked in bike shops, then moved up to a computer system operator job ( initially, it was not a move up in pay, but later, it was... ).
              Save like mad.

              I made it thru Mesa ( junior college here in San Diego ), then transfered to UCSD for my "junior" and "senior" years ( I had to go part time, as I had to continue to work "thanks, Pete Wilson, for the tuition spike just as I entered UCSD", so those "years" were about 4 in total... ).

              It is po
          • by Anonymous Coward
            "What will you say," he asks, "to an American kid who does not get into a state university and whose family cannot afford a private college because that seat and that subsidy have been given to someone who is in the country illegally?"

            "Study harder next time, dickhead."

          • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @01:09PM (#12089866) Journal
            What we have here is an obvious piece of advocacy journalism:

            - Over four pages of coverage of an extrordinary accomplishment by four extraordiarily talented and hard-working undocumented immigrant children.

            - Most of the fifth page lamenting their financial handicap and plugging a particular federal bill to give MILLIONS of illegal-immigrant children a place at the federal tit and an entitlement to further boost the drain on the taxpayers pocketbooks - with a hefty chunk of the cashflow siphoned off to pay for more beaucrats.

            - A copule sentences on how such a program would rip college opportunities out of the hands of other children who are citizens - whose parents are already being taxed - sometimes into poverty - to pay for the institutions and scholarships that would be transferred to the illegals.

            Yes it stinks for the kids who built the 'bot - and others like them. But how many similar stories DIDN'T get told about rural-poor US citizen kids who performed similar feats, with similar lack of resources?

            It's NOT rare. For starters, if you hang out at NASA for any length of time you'll notice that a LOT of "rocket scientists" are from such backgrounds. Many have such stories to tell. (And in NASA's heyday the educational opporiunities for a kid who was rural, southern, or (horrors!) both were comparable to those of these kids.)

            Creating a new entitlement program will redistribute the resources differently but not increase them overall. Further, with the mismanagement and overhead typical of government programs, it's likely to destroy far more opportunities than it creates.

            Children who are US citizens are already at a signficant disadvantage to immigrants and student-visa holders. The latter tend to get financial aid as grants - even if they are children of the rich - while the former are left with mostly loans which must be paid off at interest or suplemented by low-paid jobs that take time from study. Tuition has become so astronomical that in many fields the citizens are just dropping out, as the lifetime benefit of the education is exceeded by its unsubsidized cost.

            Are we to believe that these four are typical, rather than extrordinary? (There are extrordinary individuals in all large populations.) Are we to believe the children of illegal immigrants are so much MORE competent than the children of citizens that more good than harm will come from from transferring educational opportunites from the latter to the former, dropping a bunch of them through the cracks on the way?

            In order to press for a government solution, the story carefully ignores (except to belittle in passing) private sector aid. There are an enormous number of private scholarship programs and private charatable foundations with scholarship programs, with an explosion of criteria for who they will help. (The tax system makes it profitable to create them, and has for decades. And people whos story is like that of these kids who finally make it often create leg-up funds for others like themselves.) They're not well known. But for kids with track records like these there are likely to be hundreds of them that might fund them through school.

            IMHO the real tragedy here is that the educational institution (with the gleeful aid of the media) did NOT help these kids dig up private funding. Instead it left them in low-paying jobs and is using their plight to push for legislation to feather its own nest.

            Meanwhile, the MIT administration really ought to be busting their butts to dig up scholarship money for these kids. (Especially if they remember what the Model Railroad Club wrought.) Four children of migrant workers who, while still in highschool, beat their team with $800 to buy balloons, tampons, and PVC pipe should be the star recruits for their next freshman class.
      • by Whafro ( 193881 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:37AM (#12088795) Homepage
        Apparently you haven't heard about how top schools handle their financial aid nowadays. The top tier of schools in the country have what is called "need-blind" admissions, where they will accept anyone who is qualified to attend, regardless of their ability to pay the full tuition. Once someone is accepted, their full financial need is met completely, and in a way that doesn't put them in debt up to their eyebrows.

        At MIT in particular, more than 75% of students receive financial aid, and ALL of it is based on their financial need. Scholarships, in the merit-based sense, do not substantially exist at MIT--or most top schools. The barrier for attending these schools, at least for those who have managed to overcome barriers they have faced before the admissions process, is a merit-based barrier, and not a financial one.

        What schools, such as MIT as well as the college I attend, figure is that anyone who has demonstrated that they should be accepted to the institution has demonstrated that they deserve a "scholarship," so the funds go to those who need it most. It's not like at a large state school, where there is a tier of smart kids, and a tier of not-so-smart kids. If you can get into MIT, you're smart, and choosing scholarship recipients based on merit would involve splitting hairs.
        • This is very true.

          Additionally, and on topic, I think that there should be one set of rules concerning those who immigrate as adults under their own volition, and those who came as minors with their families and are trying to be productive.

          As far as I'm concerned, these kids deserve a chance--as do any others. I think they should be allowed to become citizens with a minimum of hassle--as long as they aren't in trouble for breaking other laws. Here's what I would suggest be the criteria:

          1. Be employed
    • by slughead ( 592713 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:21AM (#12088636) Homepage Journal
      I was going to go to this high school. It's a dump but there were far more [gang] fights/shootings at the school I ended up going to (North HS), which was literally across the street from the Phoenix Country Club.

      Carl Hayden has a nice computer-oriented "magnet" program that attracts a lot of nerds, probably the same that won this competition.
    • I have beaten MIT students before in a conference, though admittedly I was in University, but for a British University (Brunel Uni) to beat MIT on their home turf, with a product that actually works (rather than a bunch of clever technology that doesnt work together)

      The problem I saw with the MIT guys was that they are far too inclusive, and egos run riot. Each individual person was smart, but didnt nessasarily "interoperate" with each other. Whereas these high school kids, may have more social interoperat
  • by carninja ( 792514 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:08AM (#12088476)
    I think MIT should be sending these kids scholarships right about now if they wanna save any sort of face.
    • Re:Scholarships? (Score:5, Informative)

      by leerpm ( 570963 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:27AM (#12088690)
      Read the article, these kids cannot even qualify because they are considered undocumented immigrants.
    • Re:Scholarships? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      MIT gives no scholarships.
      • Yes, they do (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tim Macinta ( 1052 )

        MIT gives no scholarships.

        Not true. MIT gave me many scholarships when I was there and I they continue to give scholarships as well (they explicitly list scholarships as a category that alumni can donate to when they run fundraising drives, so they haven't stopped the practice). I didn't get the scholarships because I was particularly bright, but rather because of financial need. Financial need alone is enough to get you a scholarship once you are admitted, though I have a feeling that might not appl

  • by diegocgteleline.es ( 653730 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:08AM (#12088486)
    "Talent" is not something exclusive to MIT people.
    • "Talent" is not something exclusive to MIT people.

      But schools like MIT do everything they can to segregate intellect. They only select the "brightest" and the "best". They pick through thousands of applications, looking for the best grades, toughest curriculum, and highest test scores.

      So, how come they failed against some high school kids? What happened to the Feynmans?

      The private university only has 1 true purpose for exsisting. It is a segregated place where the legacies of the rich and powerful ca

  • Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) * on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:09AM (#12088490) Homepage Journal
    Before this deteriorates in to a Pro/Anti Immigration flame fest, I cannot but feel awe for these four kids who braced odds to be where they are at now. And to know that the odds piled up against their favor include being alien, poor, living in gang infested streets and yet be capable of this?

    For one, I hope the media picks this up, not just Wired. I hope they get as much visibility as they can, on their plight, the lives they live and their achievements. We have all heard and read of ordinary people who surmounted amazing odds to claim their personal victories, but seemingly they happen far less and few in between. What this country need to know is despite poverty, crime and the potential to go wrong, not one, but four kids chose the right, but tough path. And they should be commended for that till kingdom come.

    But for what we have seen, the INS would pick them up next week and hand them back to a grateful Mexico.
    • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

      I agree. It is important to mention that there are other outlets besides the MIT robotics competition for high school students of all backgrounds to accel. It may sound outdated and corny, but the Science Fair (particularly the ISEF [sciserv.org] provides students with this type of competition designed to show off their technical and scientific achievements, regardless of their backgrounds.

      It is nearly science fair season... I must dust off my judging clothes :)

    • But for what we have seen, the INS would pick them up next week and hand them back to a grateful Mexico.

      One can always hope.

      Here's a new one for you to hand-wring over:
      Is this evidence of a Mexican "brain-drain" phoenomenon?
    • Re:Wow! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dos_dude ( 521098 )

      Before this deteriorates in to a Pro/Anti Immigration flame fest...

      How could that possibly happen? Where do you think all those MIT students come from?

    • The truth... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by John Seminal ( 698722 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:39AM (#12088814) Journal
      Before this deteriorates in to a Pro/Anti Immigration flame fest, I cannot but feel awe for these four kids who braced odds to be where they are at now.

      I also can't help but think what a loss to their original country they are. America has a way of luring the smartest and most hard working people here with the hopes of a better life. And the country where they came from losses one more leader, one more person who could have had an impact.

      It is like the USA is the Yankee's of world baseball. We don't have to grow our own talent. We can buy it elsewhere. And then, what do we give back to other countries? We open HUGE factories where we move jobs, like when GM closed the plants in Michigan and moved them to Mexico because people there would work for pennies on the dollar.

      What does this say about how the world is being organized?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:09AM (#12088496)
    "High School Kids Beat MIT..."

    I would think the MIT crowd would be used to beatings by now.
  • by rawyin ( 870144 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:11AM (#12088515)
    I mean seriously, how many marshmellows can these kids shove up their nostrils?

    Lets do some real college science. MIT is too busy building the worlds tallest and most complex beer bong. Now THAT'S cool.
  • by aendeuryu ( 844048 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:12AM (#12088526)
    Hey, you can't blame MIT for getting intimidated. These kids sound rough. Cape Fear Community College came in third.
  • Not suprised... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I manage a team of 10 to 20 engineers, the number depends on the work load. In the past few years, I have had 5 engineers on my team that graduated from MIT. The MIT's were usually the first engineers to be replaced, I have not been impressed!
  • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <ardrake79NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:14AM (#12088543) Homepage
    "The four teenagers who built it are all undocumented Mexican immigrants who came to this country through tunnels or hidden in the backseats of cars."

    These kids are exactly the kind of people we should be encouraging to come to this country; smart, clever, hard-working, creative.

    Yet they are here illegally, and something needs to be done about that. If these kids are as smart as the article suggests (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), attaining citizenship shouldn't be particularly taxing.

    • This would be great iff we could boot ignorant, dimwitted, lazy, and whiny native borns at the same time..

      (then again, maybe I shouldn't ask too loud ;)
    • by lpangelrob2 ( 721920 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:25AM (#12088670) Journal
      When it comes down to how I feel about everyone entering this country, they are all at the very least hard-working, and how they get into this country at least implies creativity bordering on self-sacrifice (read the biyearly stories about Mexican thieving 'coyotes').

      It just so happens Americans (and thus, politicians) need to figure out what the policy is going to actually be regarding illegal immigrants. Because at some point, all of the following are true:

      1.) they don't generate tax revenue for the services they are receiving... and what they are paid is woefully inadequate by U.S. standards
      2.) they are generally capable workers
      3.) they are generally putting themselves at great bodily danger to risk later eviction
      4.) most states have stopped servicing immigrants.

      In spite of the fact that in those same states, the immigrants are doing the jobs that Americans won't take.

      So we have demand for work that goes undone, supply in the form of willing workers, and ridiculous policies in the middle that reinforce all four points above.

      Can you tell I'm in favor of a cross-border working program?

      • "In spite of the fact that in those same states, the immigrants are doing the jobs that Americans won't take."

        I'm afraid I have to throw the flag on that.

        Those aren't "jobs that Americans won't take". Those are "jobs that companies won't pay Americans to do".

        Companies pay illegal immigrants peanuts because they are allowed to; because law enforcement doesn't go after companies that hire illegal immigrants.

        If the FBI (or whomever handles these issues now) would actually crack down on companies that

    • Yet they are here illegally, and something needs to be done about that.

      Well, we could try arresting them.

      In all seriousness, don't make a law that you don't intend to enforce. There are good reasons for restricting immigration. Sure, there could be exceptions for bright/hard-working people, but these should also be in the laws.
  • VERY cool! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:15AM (#12088566)
    I went to this very school for their computer program from 1986 to 1990. Must, say, I think this is awesome. At that time, the robotics work was only in "special projects" class, and consisted of a small robotic arm hooked up to an Amiga. They've certainly come a long way.

    At the time, the school was part of a "Magnet Program," a program designed to desegregate the schools and attract more of us "white boys" to the school. We had labs of true IBMs and Compaq PCs, and had classes available for learning programming like BASIC, Pascal, and towards the end C. They had a "State of the art" 3com ethernet, that to see any changes on the server you had log out and back in again. They even had a VAX/VMS system. Quite advanced for a High School, probably even by todays standards.

    They're responsible for keeping me from having to work some boring regular job. Now I get to listen to users all day! :P The teacher mentioned in the article Allen Cameron was most definately my favorite as well. Very cool guy. Congrats!
  • The kids' future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kneecarrot ( 646291 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:16AM (#12088571)
    What is rather sad is that these kids have very few prospects for their future. The end of the article explains how, because of their undocumented status, they can only attend University or College as out-of-state students. This drastically increases the cost.

    Yes, I know they are illegal immigrants. But, they are still kids with hopes and dreams.

  • by elmartinos ( 228710 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:21AM (#12088628) Homepage
    Often newbies are better than experts. An expert is stuck with the knowledge and experience gathered over time, it is difficult to think outside this box. A newcomer instead can have fresh, unconvential ideas that most experts probably would laugh about but sometimes produce amazing results.

    On the other side, this may just be an excuse for my laziness ;-)
  • Sad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dos_dude ( 521098 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:24AM (#12088658) Homepage

    Really sad. Not that some high school kids can build better robots than the MIT. But that they beat the MIT in the 'Technical Report' category is really sad.

    I also find it amusing that the MIT would enter a competition that seems to be targeted towards high schools. Or should I find that sad too?

    • Re:Sad (Score:3, Informative)

      by jayloden ( 806185 )
      Actually, the competition has two categories..."Explorer" and "Ranger". Explorer class is almost all colleges and universities, while Ranger is for the high school students. These kids competed in the Explorer class because the teachers assumed they'd lose, so they might as well lose to some good teams...go figure -Jay
    • Re:Sad (Score:3, Informative)

      by 2obvious4u ( 871996 )
      Since you read the results you should notice that MIT scored a 48 on mission objectives. Thats 15 points more than the winner (32) and 8 points better than the next closest (40 - third place). What this says is that if MIT controlled the space program they would get us to the moon and back, whereas this high school that "beat MIT" in a robotics competition couldn't even get out of the atmosphere. Ok, so the high schoolers actually did the busy work (papers and science fair project back board), this just
  • by FidelCatsro ( 861135 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [orstacledif]> on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:25AM (#12088669) Journal
    as we learn more ,we tend to like to complicate things when sometimes a far easier explination or device would suffice.
    They simplified many of the concepts in the design , to finaly produce a much sleaker robot with a greater performance .The simple idea of having onboard power and a lighter tether was a great advantage which threw the game in their favour .
    The design seems wonderuflly direct and simple , a good example of occam's razor in the eveloution of robots "dont add more than you need
    PS:"i apoligise if i missed something TFA is loading at a snails pace for me
  • by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) * on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:25AM (#12088671) Homepage Journal
    Swean (head of the Navy's Ocean Engineering and Marine Systems program) nodded. He eyed their rudimentary flip chart.

    "Why don't you have a PowerPoint display?" he asked.

    "PowerPoint is a distraction," Cristian replied. "People use it when they don't know what to say."

    "And you know what to say?"

    "Yes, sir."

    DAMN!!! :)

  • Followup (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saddino ( 183491 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:26AM (#12088682)
    This article [washingtonpost.com] from the Washington Post follows-up the story in Wired. In short (and I suppose unsuprisingly), college isn't an option due to their illegal status (no loans, no in-state tuition). Of the two who have graduated high school: One of them is hanging drywall, and the other files papers at a Social Secuirty office.
  • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:28AM (#12088695)
    These kids should be sponsored by O.B.!
  • http://www.mpcfaculty.net/jill_zande/Explorer_sco r es.pdf [mpcfaculty.net]

    Interesting scores.

    The MIT team gets 3rd lowest score on engineering, but the highest score on actually performing the competition tasks.

    The illegal immigrants' team gets 2nd highest score on engineering and highest score on technical report.

    How does a bunch of spanish speaking illegal immigrants write a better technical report than MIT students?
    • They where the kids that wrote all those reports that you outsourced...
    • How does a bunch of spanish speaking illegal immigrants write a better technical report than MIT students?

      One can assume that for the Spanish speaking folks, English is a second language. For the MIT student, English is fifth or sixth, right behind FORTH...
  • by jvandervort ( 871966 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:37AM (#12088791)
    In the standings here are the breakdowns:

    Engineering Eval:
    Carl Hayden: 53.17
    MIT: 44.67
    Tech Report:
    Carl Hayden: 20.25
    MIT: 17
    Team Display:
    Carl Hayden: 13.5
    MIT: 8
    Mission Task:
    Carl Hayden: 32
    MIT: 48

    Carl Hayden: 118.92
    MIT: 117.67

    MIT lost because they didn't care enough about their display:)

    Apparently they were a little too myopic about the task.

    As an engineer myself, it figures:)

    • by amabbi ( 570009 )
      Mission Task: Carl Hayden: 32 MIT: 48

      So the real story is, MIT beat the high school kids by 50% in the only objective scoring category of the competition. Why is this news?

    • "MIT's ROV motored smoothly down and quickly located the 5-gallon drum inside the plastic submarine mock-up at the bottom of the pool. But as the robot approached the container, its protruding mechanical arm hit a piece of the submarine frame, blocking it from going farther. They tried a different angle but still couldn't reach the drum. The bot wasn't small enough to slip past the gap in the frame, making their pump system useless. There was nothing they could do - they had to move on to the next assignmen
  • by Concern ( 819622 ) * on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:43AM (#12088838) Journal
    I don't believe it's offtopic, considering how much attention the article devotes to the topic, to consider for a moment the scale and scope of illegal immigration in the U.S..

    If you don't live anywhere near the border, it is probably impossible for you to imagine what has happened over the past two decades in this country. Without any honest debate or policy making, we have entirely, almost formally abdicated the southern border of the United States. Literally millions of "visitors" from other countries now live here. The debate is no longer whether to try to "strengthen the border" but whether or not to give their children driver's licenses and scholarships.

    What we have done is create a de-facto second class of U.S. citizen, a "sub citizen" that provides a convenient array of features to business in the southern U.S..

    Now the avalanche of "issues:" xenophobia, debates about free trade and freedom of movement, patriotism and racism, classism, corny high-school economic ideologies and horse-and-barn-door-ism. The person writing this article seems to have a clear conclusion, after having spent some time in the midst of the issue: these kids are Americans, and we should treat them like Americans. The thing it makes me think of is that many of our reasoned beliefs (especially those coming from farther up in the chilly north) about what we should do about the "illegal immigration" problem - whether they are principled, right, wrong, or crazy - are often a bit divorced from reality, and most ultimately lead to perpetuation of the status quo: the institutional ghetto, the second-class citizen, and the end of what we love, these days, to lionize as the American Dream.
  • What kind of magazine is this "Wired"? No trolling intended, but I find it personally a rather tiring read, because the article is packed with 'couleur locale' and how everything is so diffucult for these poor boys etc. Please talk about their achievement, not about how hard it was etc.

    FTA: "He wasn't used to approaching women, let alone well-dressed white women. He saw apprehension flash across her face. Maybe she thought he was trying to sell magazines or candy bars, but he steeled himself..."

    Not quite

  • Educate Crimaliens (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spicydragonz ( 837027 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:59AM (#12089018)
    The radio talk show hosts usually use the term crimaliens when ever talking about illegal aliens. This story puts a face on those "immigrants who are stealing my white child's spot in state college." Personally, I think that smart people should get the most help to succeed. Think about the loss that our economy/society is suffering by having this young man put up dry wall instead of engineering.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @11:59AM (#12089023) Homepage Journal
    There is a link to donate money for these kids to go to college.
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.04/donate.ht ml [wired.com]
    Want to make a difference. Click the link give the amount you spent on that iPod, Xbox, PS2, or any even GTA. If evey one that posted a message gave $200 there would be 20,000 dollars already in the account.
    Even if you can not pony up the $200 how about 20?
    If you think "somebody" should help these guys be somebody.
    • Stop complaiing and do something!

      [troll]And by doing something you mean giving these four kids money?

      That is on par with the logic of starving a hundred thousand iraqui children to death through sanctions and not giving a flying f*ck, while the same happening to one braindead woman causes the whole country to stop.[/troll]

  • Magnet Programs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DeionXxX ( 261398 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @12:08PM (#12089124)
    As another poster has mentioned, Carl Hayden used to be a magnet program (I believe they were disbanded 5-7 years ago). All of the technology, programming, networking classes were taught at Carl Hayden. I would've loved to go there but Carl Hayden is probably one of the ghettoest around (and I went to a pretty ghetto one myself ... you know with race riots and gang warfare on school grounds).

    This is a great article because it shows that if you pour money into education, no matter what the background of the students, they will excell. Ofcourse when I graduated highschool in the Phoenix Union HS District (same as Carl Hayden), the statistics were against any HS graduates actually graduating from college. (As far as I understood it, out of the 5-10% that went to college, only 1 in 10 would graduate... this was from a long time teacher in the PUHSD) Sure we got scholarships, but very very few of us were prepared for the amount of reading, writing, and studying required for college. There were plenty of people like me that were competent in our respective fields, but could not handle the rest of the classes (the humanities for me).

    As the article mentioned, most of the graduates of this school go on to become day laborers or work in a warehouse, and even if they do go to college, their chances of getting a degree are slim to none. I hope the federal and state governments take a tougher stance on school funding and realisticly look at what is needed to make sure every student has the opportunity to succeede.

    Almost all of the PUHSD schools focus on getting the bottom more towards the middle then the middle up towards the top. Which leaves us with a weak middle, which in turn creates a less educated middle class. /rant
  • I read this in Wired (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ifwm ( 687373 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @12:48PM (#12089595) Journal
    And came away with the same feeling I had when I read the headline. That is, that it's a great feelgood story, but they didn't really "beat" MIT. They were handed the competition because they scored better in the subjective parts. I KNOW part of that was because they were underprivileged kids who weren't expected to do anything. They essentially rose so far above expectations that they were given the competition as a result.

    But it's still a great story.

    As an aside, shouldn't someone with some money to throw around help these kids pay for college? As illegals, they aren't eligible for financial aid (nor should they be, but wouldn't this be a great situtation for someone like Mark Cuban?

  • by 2centplain ( 838236 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @01:37PM (#12090226)
    MIT's motto is "Mens et Manus", meaning "Mind and Hands." http://libraries.mit.edu/archives/mithistory/seal/ [mit.edu]

    As the cost of an MIT degree continues to spiral above inflation, does MIT continue to attract students that have the "Manus" part?

    The article says:

    Over the past four months, Lorenzo had flourished, learning a new set of acronyms and raising his math grade from an F to an A.
    He had grown up rebuilding car engines with his brother and cousin. Now he was ready to build something of his own. The team had found its mechanics man.

    I would argue that Lorenzo's hands-on experience was a key factor in his team's success.

    I wonder how many of MIT's students arrive as freshman with hands-on skills? I would guess that this number has been declining over the years.

    When I was a freshman at MIT, I remember fixing an old stereo on my desk. One of my eletrical engineering classmates, an absolute math genius, who had already aced the intro eletrical engineering class, asked, "Hey, what are those little things with stripes on them that you've got there?" I said, "You're kidding, right? Those are resistors, you know, "R" in all the problems you've been doing." "Oh", he said, "I'd never seen a real one before."

    Mens ET Manus -- Gotta have both to be a world-class engineer. Congratulations to the "La Vida Robot" team for having what it takes!

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito