PiE Blog

Kickoff 2020

Our most recent Kickoff on March 7th marks the start of our 12th annual PiE robotics season! Though the weather was dreary, the excitement and energy of over a hundred high school students, PiE staff, and mentors brightened the day, setting the journey of building a robot off to a great start. During Kickoff, students had the opportunity to meet their mentors, gather a sense of the new game, participate in engaging workshops, and start the base of their robots.

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Fall Competition 2019!

Congratulations to the 2019 PiE Scholarship Finalists and Winner!

Fall Semester Update

Congratulations to the 2018 PiE Scholarship Finalists and Winner!

Fall Competition: New Records and New Faces

Congratulations to the 2017 PiE Scholarship Finalists and Winner!

Meet the Finalists and Winner of the 2016 PiE Alumni Scholarship!

The winners of the 2016 PiE Alumni Scholarship have been announced! For the third annual scholarship, we were excited to increase the award amount to $2000. We received a record number of applications from many qualified students. Meet the four exceptional finalists and the winner of this year’s award.

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Google Monitors

Today was an exciting day for PiE, as we received five top-of-the-line touchscreen monitors generously donated by Google!

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PiE Annual Report and Competition

We are happy to share with you the recently published 2014-15 PiE Annual Report.

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Congratulations 2015 PiE Alumni Scholarship Recipients!

We’re happy to announce the recipients of the 2015 PiE Alumni Scholarship, including four $100 finalists and the $1500 main award recipient!

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PiE 2015 Competition Awards

Congratulations Albany and Head Royce, the winners of the 2015 Competition!

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New Livestreaming Systems!

You might have noticed that PiE has been livestreaming each of our season events this year! That’s correct, we are revamping our production value!

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High School Seniors: PiE Alumni Scholarship Announced For the Second Year!

PiE 2014 final scholarship recipient Alix receiving her award after final competition

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RC DeCal: Preparing For Final Competition!

Future mentors learned to come up with strategies to win a game.

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Hovercraft Project Debuts at Prep Fieldtrip

Around 20 Prep students from Community Day toured the UC Berkeley campus this Tuesday for the annual Prep field trip that occurs at end for the program. The goal of the field trip was to give students a first-hand experience to be on a college campus and experience the day-to-day life of a college student.

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Prep, An Amazing Way to Give Back

In the figure above, Prep DeCal students and facilitators worked together to figure out a code to solve the maze challenge.

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New CSUI Inside PiE

Students who have used the current control system user interface (CSUI) have probably got frustrated by the problems in it. Though PiE has been using the control software PiEMOS in recent years, a more user-friendly control system user interface is currently being developed inside PiE. Allen Li, the project manager for CSUI, was excited to share some progress about the project he and his team members are currently working on. According to Allen, currently available user interface lacks of familiarity towards the users. In other words, the developer of existing CSUI usually expected the users to be familiar with programming. As a result, the project team has worked hard since April 2013 to design and create easy-to-use user interface for people in general, even for those who have never done robots / programming.

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Recipients of the 2014 PiE Alumni Scholarship Announced

After receiving many high quality applications from determined seniors pursuing higher education, the PiE scholarship committee - consisting of PiE staff alumni - faced the tough decision of choosing an applicant to receive the $1000 scholarship.

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Winners of the 2014 Judges' Awards

Awards are given yearly at the end of Final Competition to recognize team accomplishments. “Judging this year is the hardest I’ve ever seen it,” Brian Harvey tells the crowd anticipating the Judges’ Awards this year. This says a lot, as he’s been a judge for PiE for four years. “It is a pleasant thing that it’s is so hard to choose recipients,” he says, implying that this is an indication of the outstanding designs this year.

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PiE 2014 Scholarship Extended!

Why the 2014 Robotics Competition Almost Didn't Happen

PiE Robotics Competition Kickoff is always an exciting event, and this year was no exception. Teams met their mentors, received their Robotics Kits, and many were able to finish the day having achieved their goal of constructing a driving base robot!

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Pioneers in Engineering is proud to announce its inaugural PiE Alumni Scholarship!

PiE has grown in various ways over the last six years. We have expanded our season by a week, doubled the length of our Final Competition, nearly tripled our staff roster, and extended our reach into San Francisco. Another important sign of our growth is the increasing number of PiE alumni now in academia and industry.

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Prep End Marks the Beginning of the Robotics Competition Season

Last Friday, March 3, 2014, the PiE Prep Season came to a successful close. In the 2013-2014 season, PiE Prep staff and mentors carried out 16 project based STEM lessons and activities with students at Ralph Bunche High School in Oakland and at Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC) in Alameda.

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PiE Does Hour of Code

Hour of Code

This week has been Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science. One program that CSEdWeek offers is a one-hour introduction to CS known as Hour of Code. Today, PiE visited Joaquin Miller Elementary School to work with students on Hour of Code.

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Prep Comes to Cal

On Friday October 25 the tables were reversed, and Prep students came to the UC Berkeley campus.

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PiE at Mini Maker Faire

This last Sunday, October 20, PiE was present at the Annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire, which took place in Oakland, California.

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One, two, three, PULL! And the robots are off!

PiE at the Presidio

On July 19th, with the help of Bay Area Teen Science (B.A.T.S.), [email protected], and First Graduate, PiE was able to showcase its robots to hundreds of middle and high school students at the Bay School of San Francisco.

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Workshop Weekend Success!

Last Saturday, June 22, PiE hosted a workshop at Tech Liminal as a part of Workshop Weekend, a two-day event for community learning. Participants of the workshop made speakers from styrofoam bowls, neodymium magnets, coiled copper wires, and other everyday materials.

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PiE will be at the next Workshop Weekend!

It’s always a great opportunity for PiE to get involved with our local community and share what excites us. We’re happy to announce that we will be hosting a workshop at Workshop Weekend, a community based event, this coming Saturday, June 22. This workshop will start at 10 A.M and is located at Tech Liminal: 555 12th St. #110 in Oakland.

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Linkbot: Create with Robots

Meet the Linkbot. It’s a modular robotic that can be engaged by beginners and advanced makers alike. The Linkbot boasts unique, flexible built-in modes (TiltDrive, CopyCat, PoseTeaching, BumpConnect) that allow users to creatively customize each robot.

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A Strong End to a Strong Season

Motorized controllers, internal ramps, front facing claws, and…spatulas? The different approaches to each robot’s design exemplified the team’s creativity. Parents, teachers, professors and industry representatives gathered at the Lawrence Hall of Science during PiE’s final competition weekend to view teams’ finalized robots compete against one another for the 2013 championship.

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Robot Spotlight: Pinole Valley High School

Pinole Valley High School’s PiE team has put together a highlight video showcasing their 2013 robot’s unique strategy and capabilities. We are excited to see what they come up with for next year’s competition!

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"There is only one PiE" - Zipcar pays visit to UC Berkeley

PiE staff members gathered with representatives from UC Berkeley, Ford and Zipcar to celebrate PiE’s victory in the 2013 Students with Drive Grand Prize contest. PiE and UC Berkeley were presented with checks for $10,000 each to fund their activities in the coming year, and an additional $5,000 in Zipcar credits that PiE will use to help transport mentors to high schools in the 2014 PiE competition.

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The Calm Before the Finals...

Students and staff alike experienced a day of full of energy, excitement, and working robots this past weekend in the historic Hearst Memorial Mining Building. It marked the 5th and most successful Scrimmage in PiE history so far, but we are again reminded about how quickly Final Competition is creeping up - and how much work is still left to be done.

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Ready, Set, Scrimmage!

All teams are expected to have fully functional robots by Scrimmage, which will be held this Sunday, April 14 from 9 am to 5 pm. The will have a chance to see what other teams are building, as well as compare their designs to those of other teams. PiE Mentorship Coordinator Andrew Vanderburg emphasizes the importance of testing the execution of a finished robot: “As a veteran of robotics competitions, I think that the most important factor isn’t how well your robot works or how well it’s built, but how well you can drive it when the time comes.”

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PiE Announced Grand Prize Winner of Students-With-Drive

Today, PiE was announced the winner of Zipcar’s Students-With-Drive competition! We would like to thank everybody who took the time to vote for us, and those who continue to support us and our endeavors. We ran against four deserving contenders with great missions, and won by a margin of just about 50 votes - out of a total of over 10,000. In this close of a competition, each and every single one of your votes counted.

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The Power of Persistence

Meet Michael Weber: a former professor in the Netherlands, turned computer scientist turned software engineer. He has a background both in academia and industry, and is now working a mobile software platform (pervasive concurrency) in Qualcomm.

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PiE a grand prize finalist in Zipcar's Students with Drive competition! Vote for us!

An Inside Look into PiE's 2013 Challenge: Cube Route

Game Day 2013

New to this year, Game day is the second half of Kickoff. During this day, the PiE challenge is revealed, and teams are given their base kits! The teams then disperse into workshops with their mentors to complete the base robotics kit. The goal of Game Day is for each team to have a fully functional base robot to expand upon. Staff was happy to see the 24 teams working hard to put together their newly received kit, taking advantage of the resources on the PiE wiki, and spending what little time left on planning and designing strategies.

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Me? A Scientist?

PiE's Mechanical Team Makes Magic

Where do dreams of the 2,299 parts of PiE’s robotic kit go to materialize? It all happens in a mechanical machine shop in the basement of Etcheverry Hall. Since November of last year, PiE’s mechanical team has spent about 1-2 days a week, 3-4 hours a day in the machine shop. Manufacturing is a lengthy process, so mechanical designs, drawings, deadlines, and plans were all frozen as early as last October. The machine shop is a resource provided by UC Berkeley’s Mechanical Engineering Department.

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Participating High Schools for 2013 Competition

After careful deliberation, PiE has finalized the acceptance list for the 2013 Robotics Competition. Congratulations to the schools that were accepted! We look forward to seeing you at Kickoff this weekend.

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Thank You Advanced Circuits!

For the last five years, Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) have provided a low cost robotics competition to Bay Area high school students that face a high barrier to entry in conventional robotics competitions. One way PiE maintains its commitment to low cost is through its in-house manufacturing and development of a robotics kit, complete with electronics and aluminum to assemble a driving robot! Recently, PiE has pushed to develop its own motor controllers and has to rely on multiple design iterations before arriving at a dependable motor controller for competition use.

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Interested in Mentoring For PiE?

Think back to your time in high school: questions about college, uncertainties about your future, and what seemed like an endless pile of work. When thoughts of college became overwhelming, we looked to our role models for assistance.

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High School Teacher Pushes For Advanced Computer Science Classes

Mary Clarke-Miller teaches Encinal High’s Multimedia class, a course that covers graphic design, web design, and Filmmaking. Her students learn digital animation, game design, and programming, and are introduced to software like Flash, Maya, BYOB, Unity and Javascript.

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Zipcar Success!

We want to extend a big “thank you” to the entire PiE community for your support during the Zipcar Students with Drive contest.

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Prepping For College

How would PiE use $5,500 in Zipcar credit?

PiE is currently in a contest to win $5,500 worth of Zipcar credits. Some people have been wondering: if we win this competition, how would we use the money?

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Help PiE win $5,500 in Zipcar miles

We have some exciting news: Pioneers in Engineering is a finalist in the Zipcar Students with Drive contest! This means that we could win $5,500 in Zipcar hours if we win a Facebook voting competition.

With that many Zipcar hours, we can let our wonderful mentors use Zipcar to get from Berkeley to our high schools easier during the competition season. That means mentors will be able to spend less time commuting, and more time helping students build their robots!

Please vote for us and help us win this contest! It only takes 2 minutes at this link: http://apps.facebook.com/students-with-drive/

You will have to add the app, like Zipcar, and then you will be able to vote for PiE in the Academic category! Then, share it with your friends and ask them to vote for us too!

Every vote counts!

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A Smashing Success!

Our Site's New Look

Hi everyone! You may have noticed that our website has a fresh new look. We redesigned the front end of our site from the ground up, featuring a much prettier and modern template and a more intuitive navigation tree. We hope this makes your browsing experience more pleasant and informative.

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