How it all began
Project SIGMO was initiated in April, 2005 by a group of elite students at Fannett-Metal High School. The development was based off of a project that won the esteemed title of Overall Grand Champion (2005) at the annual Franklin County Science and Technology Fair. Daniel Shope, who designed and presented the project "Anthropomorphic Bi-Pedal Walkers," received several awards, including the distinguished Yale Science and Engineering Award. The story did not end there. For the next several months, Shope and a select group of high school students plunged into learning the skills necessary to achieve the monumental goal they had set:
Create an Artificially Intelligent robot capable of bi-pedal walking, advanced environment sensing, and anthropomorphic appeal.
One very important driving force is a highly esteemed man and our Science teacher, Mr. Mathern Mellott. It seemed with each new development, we would rush out so show various leaders in the school administration, to garner their support, though I am sure our presence grew tiresome. Mellott is always here for us, encouraging us to dream big, and helping us find a way to make those dreams a reality. I always like to say that he is very unrealistic in his goals, but somehow he finds a way to make it happen. Every project leader needs a strong support mesh to fall back onto. Mr. Mellott was by far a leading supporter of this project.
Mellott had a lot of experience in receiving grant money, student scholarships, and opportunities most people didn't even know existed. Another advisor to Project SIGMO, Mr. Gary McGee, had previous experience in acquiring sponsorships due to his background and current presence on the racetrack. Their knowledge and expertise were used in the acquisition of sponsors for Project SIGMO.
An interesting aspect was the balance of available time for design and engineering of this project. All members of Project SIGMO attended school with a full work load, held positions at two jobs, and were also members of various extracurricular activities. It all boiled down to time spent during classes, mainly with our science teacher, Mr. Mellott, and for me late nights. Being the principle engineer of the project, if I did not produce designs, ideas, and solutions on a daily basis, we could fall behind or slow our pace, both undesirable results. Some people would comment that I must not have a life, working three jobs and attending school full time. I just remember something Mellott always shares with us, that you can always make time. We used to laugh at it, but there is truth in it to some extent.