NASA/MIT Names Storming Robots Robotics Team as Finalists in Satellite Competition

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NJ high school students from Storming Robots, a unique year-round robotics learning center, were selected as finalists in the 2011 ZeroRobotics Competition held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NASA. The teams were tasked with writing software to control experimental mini-satellites used aboard the International Space Station(ISS).

Engineering and Computational Thinking For Gr.3 to 12

Take robotics competition for talented high school students to new heights, literally - running miniature satellites(the robot) aboard the International Space Station!

A team of students at Branchburg based Storming Robots were selected as finalists in the ZeroRobotics Competition held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NASA. One hundred and forty-nine teams entered the competition from the USA and Europe. The teams were tasked with writing software to control experimental mini-satellites used aboard the International Space Station(ISS).

All finalists are invited to travel to MIT in January to watch a live video feed from the ISS Space Station where their programs will be loaded onto the satellite and ran in real time. The refereeing for the competition will be performed by one of the ISS astronauts.

This competition is an intensively engineering/physics/programming centric program where the teams design software to automate small satellites aboard the International Space Station. The goal is to build the culture of pushing the limit of engineering and space exploration.

A quote from the MIT’s ZeroRobotics’ site – “… it is a student competition that takes "arena robotics" to new heights, literally. The robots are miniature satellites called SPHERES and the final competition of every tournament is aboard the International Space Station!”

The competition schedule has been very intensive. Programs were required to be submitted twice in October to run in simulated competitions. It was then followed by an elimination round in early November. The top fifty-four teams were advanced to the Semi-Final Round where they formed into alliance teams of three teams each.

Storming Robots’ alliance teams are from Houston/Texas and Clarksville/Maryland. Within the last three weeks of November, the teams have diligently engaged in productive discussion for more math, coding and strategy enhancement using Storming Robots’ internal online forum as the main media for communication. On December 2nd, the alliance team then again submitted code for another elimination round. The top 9 alliance teams were selected to enter the ISS Final. Storming Robots’ alliance team ranked 3rd among US teams.

In the final competition, our program will run a volley ball-sized spherical satellite inside the International Space Station’s cabin. Each satellite contains its own power, propulsion, and computing and navigation equipment. An astronaut will run the final robotics competition aboard the ISS and will interact with participating students via a live video broadcast at MIT.

The team consists of five members: Avery Katko, 17; Matthew Goldman, 17, Bernardsville High School; Matthew Sicottes, 16, Somerville HS ; Ben Brown, 17, Gills Saint Bernard High School; and Nikhil Shah, 16, Ridge High School. Many of these students have been attending Storming Robots for more than four years. Avery and Matthew have been with Storming Robots since 2005.

Currently Storming Robots has approximately 140 students enrolled. Some come from as far away as Newtown, PA and Spring Lake, NJ. Its director Elizabeth Mabrey is the founder for the hands-on robotics program which has made such great impact to these young people. Our goal is to fuel and reinforce computational thinking and engineering via hands-on robotics and technology fun.

Quote from one of the parents, Kerstin Katko (Avery’s mother), “I can't rave enough about Storming Robots. My son has been going there for the past six years and has learned so much on so many levels. Elizabeth, the director, motivates her students to work at a very high level but more important, in my opinion, are the ethical standards she upholds. Students are expected to take responsibility for their own work. They learn how to problem solve and become THINKERS and inventors. They learn to work hard and love doing it.”

To learn about programs from Storming Robots, you may visit, or about past competitions.
To learn about the Zerorobotics program, visit


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Elizabeth Mabrey
Storming Robots
(908) 595-1010
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