Hereford high-flying students impress governor at manufacturing event


Thanks to the robotics wunderkinds and their gadgets from Hereford High School, guests at a high-powered manufacturing industry banquet -- including a clearly impressed Governor Larry Hogan -- got a glimpse of the kind of mechanical technology students are learning in schools across Baltimore County.

Led by teacher Michael Dodd-O, Hereford students and robotics club members Steven DiBerardino, Joe Meseke, Will Fern, Veronique Nedeau, and John Michael Seidts wowed the audience at the “Decades of Distinction” gala hosted at Martin’s West in Woodlawn by the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland.  

Demonstrating student-built robots and whirring drones known as UAVs, or “unmanned aerial vehicles,” the Baltimore County students attracted a crowd with their mobile metal, plastic, and electronic creations.  Manufacturing leaders delighted by taking turns driving the vehicles and learning how to maneuver the compact UAV.

“They did a great job,” Hereford Principal Joe Jira says of the robotics students. “All represented Hereford High School at its best.”
Hereford began its UAV program this year, according to Dodd-O, and several students will compete in June in an international competition featuring aerial vehicles programmed to search for a target, release an egg to the target safely, and perform search and rescue operations. The Hereford team – one of three high schools competing – will face off against drones from more than 50 universities from around the world.

Hereford was asked to present their bots after the team won the Maryland state robotics championship recently, including taking home awards in programming skills and overall excellence.  

Hogan, who attended the event to recognize the host RMI’s 25th anniversary and the role of manufacturing industries in the state, took the controls briefly of both a land-bound robot and an airborne UAV. Tutored expertly by Hereford students, the state’s chief executive exulted upon successfully learning how to navigate the devices.

“We were aware the governor was there, and we were hoping to have an opportunity for students to meet with him,” Dodd-O says. “I was speaking to a representative of KCI Engineering when he told me that the governor was flying our UAV with one of my students. She was very excited after that.”

The event was an opportunity to show business leaders from across Maryland how sophisticated BCPS students are using cutting-edge technology. Robotics clubs similar to Hereford’s have thrived across the school system and now regularly design and build intricate robots that can compete successfully in tournaments across the nation.  

As for the Hereford students they will stay busy this spring. In mid-April, the robotics team will compete in another robotics international championship. Good luck, Hereford!

Story by Charles Herndon, Communications Specialist - Photo by Craig Meseke, parent of Hereford student Joe Meseke
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