Award-winning J.P. Stevens High School FIRST Robotics team honored

J.P. Stevens High School’s FIRST Robotics team received the Altice USA Excellence in Innovation Award for its development of “VisualEyes,” an artificial intelligence-powered device that can perform object recognition for the visually impaired.

The Warhawks were also surprised during a presentation on Monday with an Excellence in Inspiration award, which comes in the form of a $2,000 grant, for conducting extensive outreach last summer through the creation of computer-programming courses that reached nearly 3,500 students worldwide.

“All summer long they (taught) these courses, so it’s been really impressive what these kids did,” J.P. Stevens technology teacher and Warhawks faculty advisor Kevin Kearney said.

Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. attended Monday’s presentation on behalf of New Jersey’s 18th Legislative District, where he joins Assemblymen Robert Karabinchak and Sterley Stanley in representing seven municipalities including Edison.

“We are amazed and proud of the work of the Warhawks,” Diegnan, Karabinchak and Stanley said in a joint statement, noting the team reflects the greatness of J.P. Stevens, which U.S. News & World Report recently ranked among the Top 30 high schools in New Jersey.

“Not only have these students designed tremendous projects like the game-playing robot ‘Cyclops’ and patent-pending device ‘VisualEyes’ to assist the visually impaired, but they share their knowledge with thousands of students across more than 10 countries about coding, computer science, and robotics. The J.P. Stevens team has truly earned the Excellence in Innovation Award from Altice USA, and we look forward to seeing their next design.”

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The Warhawks designed “VisualEyes” for the FIRST Robotics Global Innovation Challenge, which replaced a traditional robotics competition during the pandemic.

The team’s award-winning creation provides audible directions to help a visually impaired person get a sense of understanding of the surrounding environment through object recognition, such as where a chair might be located inside a room.

“Due to the pandemic, it was impossible to participate in (live) competition,” J.P. Stevens robotics team member Vivek Isukapalli said, noting the Warhawks were “presented with the opportunity to create an innovation to alleviate physical or mental health (and) improve physical or mental well-being.”

The Warhawks were also formally recognized Monday as the recipient of a $1,500 prize for “Excellence in Technology” in 2021 from Optimum, which sponsored the team during the 2022 competition season. J.P. Stevens received a banner to display in its workshop.

FIRST Robotics is an international STEM skill development program, of which Altice USA is a sponsor. An annual high school competition challenges teams of students to build and program a robot that can perform a variety of challenging tasks.

Since its inception more than a decade ago, J.P. Stevens’ team has participated with success in annual competitions, which Altice USA sponsors.

Despite the focus of competition being on the robot, FIRST Robotics aims to excite STEM students and expose them to the field’s wide-ranging opportunities. Students on a FIRST Robotics team can develop skills in mechanical and electrical engineering, coding, programming, marketing, communications, leadership, finance, outreach, and more.

All FIRST Robotics participants also seek to inspire new generations to explore the wonders of science and technology.

“This is more than just a STEM contest,” the Warhawks proclaim on their student-run website. “It is an experience that builds teamwork, creates friendships, teaches management skills, and gives back to the community.”

Student contributors to the Warhawks’ Innovation Award include:

Arnav Borborah

Nazmin Abbasi

Vian Miranda

Kashyap Tanuku

Soham Chawathe

Manavi Panjnani

Nivedha Sundar

Mihir Chanduka

Ved Soolgiri

Shricharan Kulavanikerpuram Subramaniam

Vivek Isukapalli

Priya Abiram

Heet Chauhan

Pranaya Murugan

Krishan Trikha

Matthew Banaag

Shivan Mukherjee

Ahnaf Rahim

Sagar Patil

Kavish Purani

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