National University Academy Student Team Participates in Robotics Competition

April 1, 2015

Robotics competition is a first for student team of 8 boys and 7 girls; Students supported through collaborative effort between NUA and National University

San Diego, Calif. – April 2, 2015 – A student team from a National University Academy charter school is participating in the 9th Annual San Diego Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition April 2-4. The robotics team, the Circuit Breakers, is made up of eight boys and seven girls in a specialized STEM program. Their achievements were supported through a collaboration with National University, the second-largest private, nonprofit university in California.

This is the first time the Academy has been represented by a team in the prestigious and challenging robotics event that reaches more than 58,000 students on over 2,300 teams in regional competitions held across the world. The students attend NUA 1001, a unique STEM-focused program that is part of the National University Academy (NUA) public charter school. NUA is authorized by the Lakeside Union School District and is part of the National University Division of Pre-College Programs.

“We couldn’t be more proud of the students who took on this project,” said Kimberleigh Marro, National University Academy’s Interim Executive Director. “They are remarkable for the initiative they took in putting into practice their passion for robotics. We also thank Fardusa Sharif, their NUA teacher mentor, Dr. James Jaurez of National University for his expertise, and the parents of our NUA 1001 program who so diligently support our school.”

Both the STEM-focused NUA 1001 program and the National University School of Engineering and Computing are housed at National University’s Kearny Mesa Campus, which encourages cross-pollination of ideas between the university and charter school programs.

Last Fall, NUA 1001 student Mohammed Shafi spearheaded the creation of a robotics team, composed primarily of high school sophomores and juniors. He did so with the encouragement of Dr. Jaurez, an Associate Professor in the National University School of Engineering and Computing, Sharif, and others. Sharif, who served as one of three team mentors, helped research and secure grants, including one from Qualcomm.

“These students are tomorrow’s innovators; they are our future,” said Sharif. “Their story illustrates what can be done when a group of students channels its determination toward a single goal, and then works together to achieve it.”

In addition to contributing his expertise, Dr. Jaurez served as the National University faculty mentor and provided the use of his lab at the University. The process of developing the robot required a high level of programming, design skills, and teamwork, he said. Working on a tight deadline, the team succeeded in creating a robot to pick up and stack several storage containers. “They learned programming from scratch,” said Dr. Jaurez. “They put the robot together with whatever they could get their hands on: Wood. PVC pipe. Aluminum. Tires. Everything. It was incredible.”

The FIRST Robotics Competition is an international event that teams professionals and young people together to solve an engineering design problem, and encourages interest in technological fields through the application of basic concepts of science, math, engineering, and invention. The three-day event showcases robots developed and operated by dozens of high school teams from all over the world. Teams compete for regional awards, and the chance to compete at the FIRST Championship April 22-25.

Said NUA 1001 student Mohammed Shafi: “We put in a lot of effort, we came together as a team, and we all gave each other support,” said Mohammed. “It has been a wonderful experience.”

About National University
Founded in 1971, National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California. With 30,000 students and more than 140,000 alumni, National University is the flagship institution of the National University System. National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students. Five schools and one college – the College of Letters and Sciences; the School of Business and Management; the School of Education; the School of Engineering and Computing; the School of Health and Human Services; and the School of Professional Studies – offer more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degrees and 23 teacher credentials. Programs are offered at locations throughout California and across the nation, and are also available online. National University is headquartered in La Jolla, California.

About National University Academy (NUA)
The National University Academy serves students in over 20 locations throughout central, southern, and northern California. NUA is a tuition-free, WASC-accredited, K-12 public charter school offering elementary, middle and high school programs in an independent study format. http://www.nuacademy.org/

Media contact:
Anna Cearley
Director of Public Relations
858-642-8163
acearley@nu.edu