How a Harrisonburg High School robot became a star

Reporting and video production by Chase Downey, contributor

The robotics team at the Harrisonburg High School Governor’s STEM Academy has been racking up wins and awards at competitions this year with its fully mobile, agile and ring-tossing robot.

The accolades for the team, which calls itself “Error Code 404,” included sweeping the Collins Aerospace Innovate award at three competitions last month.

Oh, and the team members did it all while navigating COVID-19 restrictions, which resulted in the builders who constructed the robot and the programmers who wrote the code not even working together in the same place.

Here’s how the team built the award-winning robot that qualified for a world competition (which was ultimately cancelled because of the pandemic):

Two of the four team members are seniors, and both are awaiting college decisions.

Thomas Shulgan hopes to pursue a mechanical or aerospace engineering degree at either Virginia Tech or the University of Virginia.

And Carlo Mehegan plans to major in computer science and is considering JMU, Davidson College, Carnegie Mellon University and MIT.

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