OVIEDO, Fla. – A Central Florida robotics team has competed in four world championships and churned out elite-level college students at an incredible rate.
Founded in 2010 as a community team supported by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Super 7 robotics team is not affiliated with a school. It's a passion project of a husband and wife, Prasad Chittaluru and Shri Varadarajulu, who are this week's Getting Results Award winners.
"This is the greatest joy of our life. We have a lot of fun with these amazing kids. They are a part of our extended family," Chittaluru said.
And the feeling is mutual. Several students described Chittaluru and Varadarajulu as "a second set of parents."
Angelina Khourisader has been on the team for six years. She said she spends most weekends in the garage with friends working on their latest project.
"We have a lot of fun in here. We do a lot of work in here," Khourisader said. "It's every weekend, sometimes school nights, all the time."
Khourisader said the documentation and research part of the competition has inspired her to pursue a career in patent law.
Liz and Richard Gilson nominated the coaches for the Getting Results Award because, they said, "They give their time. They give their house. I mean, their garage is a small part of it, really."
For the past 10 years, the garage has been the training ground for the Super 7 robotics team. Last year, the team built a Mars rover.
The robot was designed to collect minerals but, for practice, it picks up pingpong balls.
The team has been awarded patents for products related to treatments for Alzheimer's disease.
"It's just an amazing cohesive group that came together organically, just from word of mouth," Chittaluru said.
Students from the team will be working in labs at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California Berkley and the University of Florida. Anyone who would like to help sponsor the projects can visit the team's website, teamsuper7.com.