FORT MADISON – Not only are they learning how to use new technology to build robots, but they’re learning the basics of marketing in the process.

The Fort Madison Cyberhounds, a group of students from Fort Madison High School and Holy Trinity Catholic, did some marketing under the leadership of Elliott Test Kitchen’s Kumar Wickramasingha, Monday evening in front of industry leaders from Lee County at the Test Kitchen.

The group was started several years ago as a Robotics club at Fort Madison High School, mentored by Joseph Johnstun, a history teacher, and Shalisse Johnstun, an English instructor at FMHS. The group learns, and teaches others, about how the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives are being utilized to build competitive robots at the high school.

FMHS Senior Jace Fedler walks invited guests at Elliott Test Kitchen through a slide show of the Fort Madison Cyberhounds Robotics Club. The club invited area business and industry leaders to the event in hopes of gaining support for the club’s activities and competitions. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

Wickramasingha seized on the energy of the students and made them a part of the Elliott Test Kitchen’s programming for this school year. The Cyberhounds come and teach the robotics they’ve learned to the elementary and junior high students. And as always, the learning through a with a wholesome meal prepared at the kitchen, again, under the leadership of Wickramasingha.

Jace Fedler, a senior at FMHS, said the night was built to create awareness for the project to possibly generate some sponsorships for the group, which is now at 23 students. The group is a diverse group consisting of nine girls and 14 boys.

“We invited all these companies and businesses to talk to them about high school robotics. What we’d like to do for them and what we’d like them to do for us.”

He said the Cyberhounds are the only robotics team in a 50 mile radius and their mission is to create awareness for what STEM is doing locally.

The Cyberhounds travel to a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition each year. Last year the competition was in Cedar Falls, Fedler said it was an eye-opening experience.

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