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BCHS grad participating in international robot challenge

Braxton’s Michael Lemon one of 10 elected for actual challenge site

By  Shirley Shuman

In early June, Michael Lemon, a 2019 graduate of Braxton County High School will be among 10 other WVU engineering students at the site of the international University Rover Challenge to be held at the Mars Research Desert Station in Hanksville, Utah.  This is WVU’s second time competing in this challenge. Lemon, a computer science major, has worked in the 40-student project to build a robot which will perform four different missions. Lemon explained the challenge and what they have programmed their robot to do.

He said that the team of 40 “basically built something like the Mars Rover that completes various tasks, which they call “missions.”  These include a science mission, an on-board study of soil and life. Then, there is the extreme retrieval in which, Lemon noted, “The Rover has to find objects out in the field and retrieve them.” In a third, called equipment servicing,   “the Rover must open drawers and doors and interact with a keyboard (type).”  For the fourth, the autonomy mission, “The Rover goes to a location and find everything on its own.” The site at which the robots compete in a copy of the surface of the planet Mars.

Lemon and the other computer scientists on the team are responsible for programming the robot, which they have named the Wanderer, to make decisions. Since this is his first experience with the project. he is especially excited about this one, particularly since he is one of the 10 elected to go to the actual site of the challenge. He explained that the group of 40 voted to select the 10.   Dr. Yu Gu, of WVU’s engineering department, will accompany the students.

Working with the robot, Lemon commented, “has been something practical” and, in his opinion, “It feels much more real than sitting in a lot of classes.”  He added, “I can program something into the robot (computer) and then wait to see if it performs it.”

Graduating in May, Lemon has been researching job openings. Of possible positions, he said, “A robotics position would be cool,” then added, “but also software positions would be good.” While this young scientist is looking forward to his upcoming graduation and to obtaining a position in the work force, It’s pretty certain that right now he is more excited about the University Rover Challenge in June.