Robotic Applications in a High School Environment: Design and Construction of a General Purpose Robot for Autonomous Operation in Pace High School


Madison Fortenberry


This talk will explore some of the challenges to designing a robotic platform for operation in a public high school environment and discuss the design and construction of VGER, Versatile General Purpose Experimental Robot, which Madison built to perform multiple autonomous tasks at Pace High School. VGER was designed to perform two primary missions, an exploration platform simulating a NASA planetary explorer and a robotic student aid. In its exploration mode VGER (also referred to as the SPace Explorer for Scientific Pace high school Explorer) can carry independently developed experiments and deploy them for remote operation, providing transport, navigation, power, and communications for the experiment packages onboard. As a robotic student aid, VGER performs the duties of a student aid by accepting a message or delivery task from the guidance office and autonomously ascertaining the current scheduled location of any student or faculty member, plotting a course and navigating to that location, delivering the message or information, and recording a response or confirmation for delivery back to the guidance office. The presentation will include a demonstration of VGER operating in direct command mode.

Madison Fortenberry is a 16 year old junior at Pace High School in Pace Florida. He has been pursuing his interests in science and technology from an early age. By the age of 10 he began to work with networked computers and earned extra money loading operating systems and configuring software for his father’s business customers. Madison has experience with multiple operating systems and computer languages though he is most fluent in several dialects of the Basic language. He works with multiple types of micro controllers and designs and builds electronic and mechanical devices and subsystems for the various robotics and other projects he is involved with. He teaches basic electronics and micro controller programming for the Robotics Club and conducted his own summer robotics camp for elementary age kids. Currently he maintains a 4.0 average in a heavily weighted honors science and math curriculum but also excels in speech and debate. His other interests include Astro-Cosmology and theories regarding the fundamental nature of matter and energy. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Junior Statesman of America, Rho Kappa, Anchor Board, and the Robotics Club. Madison aspires to attend one of America’s top universities to pursue degrees in Physics and Engineering.