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Cedarburg High School students program satellites on board the International Space Station

Posted at 10:23 AM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-10 11:33:03-05

CEDARBURG -- Seven students at Cedarburg High School are skipping school Thursday and Friday to compete in an international robotics competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

The students are competing at the Zero Robotics Competition -- where high school students program satellites on board the International Space Station. 

“That's the crazy part to me. We went from basically nothing to going to MIT and watching our code run on the ISS. It's totally crazy to me,” said Brandon Lusk. He's a senior at Cedarburg and is one of the students competing in the robotics tournament.

The challenge was to write computer code to program a virtual robot. After several phases of virtual competition against other teams, that code will be tested on an actual robot on the ISS.

“It's harder than anything I've ever done before," said junior Abbie Pigatto. "Most of us had to learn the new programming language to do it. It was a lot of math stuff and physics and stuff like that.” 

Learning how to write the computer code started back in September, and now the students have made it to the finals.

Fourteen alliance teams from around the world will compete Thursday to determine the international champion. 

"One of the things about computer science is the resilience that you need. You write your code. It doesn't work. You try something else. Then you try something else. So these kids are super resilient,” said Cedarburg computer science teacher Mike Cullen. 

The students will find out on Thursday if they win the international competition.