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  • Award-winning high school students document their success using Overleaf

    Posted by Shelly on November 13, 2017


    In this article we are delighted to show that Overleaf, and LaTeX itself, are not the sole preserve of scientists and mathematicians working within universities and other research institutions. It is our pleasure to share with you the experiences of two high school research teams—Mechromancers and The Three Musketeeretts—who achieved amazing results this year and used Overleaf to document their journeys.


    An innovative high school robotics team from central Florida displayed stellar cooperation and impressive professionalism as they earned a world-ranking second place at the 2016–2017 FIRST World Championship competition in Houston, Texas with their sophisticated robot design!

    Photograph of the Mechromancers team members at the FIRST World Championship in Houston, Texas
    Mechromancers team members winning second place at the FIRST World Championship in Houston, Texas.

    The Three Musketeeretts

    Formerly members of the all-female middle school robotics team, Nano Ninjas—from Portland, Oregon, The Three Musketeeretts were recently named as the 9th grade National Winner of the 2017 eCYBERMISSION STEM competition for their ingenious solution, GLIMPSEGesture control Logic In Minimizing Phantom Sensations Effectively, aimed at improving treatment of Phantom Limb Sensations (PLS) experienced by amputees.

    Photograph showing The Three Musketeeretts receiving a $5,000 STEM-In-Action Grant
    The Three Musketeeretts receiving a $5,000 STEM-In-Action Grant to continue developing their project. Image source/credit: eCybermission 2017 by U.S.Army RDECOM is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

    The Three Musketeeretts

    The story of The Three Musketeeretts begins with their success with the all-girl Nano Ninjas middle school robotics team in the 2015–2016 FIRST Tech Challenge. In a collaborative effort with the admirable Nano Ninjas mentor and coach, Nixon Xavier, Overleaf sponsored the Nano Ninjas and provided the team with an enterprise account so that they could collaborate in real-time on their engineering notebook. The girls not only created a professional notebook detailing their team’s journey, but also created an Overleaf introductory video, a video sharing their engineering notebook journey, and an engineering notebook template to inspire other robotics teams to adopt Overleaf as an effective collaborative documentation tool.

    Photograph showing <em>The Three Musketeeretts</em> presenting their solution for the LIVE eCYBERMISSION National Showcase
    The Three Musketeeretts presenting their solution for the LIVE eCYBERMISSION National Showcase. Image source/credit: eCybermission 2017 by U.S.Army RDECOM is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

    The Three Musketeeretts: In their own words

    In this section, The Three Musketeeretts eloquently detail their eCYBERMISSION challenge experience and how they arrived at an inventive therapy to help amputees struggling with PLS.

    This year, almost 6,000 teams from all over the country have been working on innovative solutions to community problems for the 2017 eCYBERMISSION competition; a web-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program—sponsored by the U.S. Army and administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). Twenty teams have qualified for the eCYBERMISSION National Judging & Educational Event held at Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia. The Three Musketeeretts are one of those 20 teams, as well as one of the five recipients of the eCYBERMISSION $5,000 STEM-In-Action-Grant. Over the course of this season, each individual member has received $9,000 in U.S Savings Bonds for their work.

    When the girls discovered the eCYBERMISSION challenge they decided to focus on the growing number of amputees in their area, as there are over 185,000 amputations occurring each year in Oregon alone. It is expected that there will be over 3.5 million amputees around the world by 2050, that’s double the current amputee population! With research, they discovered that about 80% of all amputees may experience Phantom Limb Sensations (PLS). PLS is the pain or sensation an amputee feels in their missing limb, lasting any period of time depending on the amputee.

    The Three Musketeeretts wanted to improve the current treatments for PLS, so they began brainstorming a more efficient therapy and came up with Gesture control Logic In Minimizing Phantom Sensations Effectively (GLIMPSE). It is a cost-effective solution for phantom limb sensation using virtual reality and a gesture-control armband. Their entire journey was to be documented into their mission folder—a documentation of their team collaboration, engineering design, and community benefits. To document this, the girls decided to use Overleaf, whose LaTeX editor gave their mission folder a professional look. They were able to add features such as a table of contents, chapter headings, footnotes and an index—along with other valuable features! The girls then won first place at the State, Regional Level and became National Finalists, winning a paid trip to Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia to share their solution and learn about STEM at eCybermission’s National Judging and Educational Event. The Regional, State and National Judges were impressed with the team’s professional document, and many were excited to learn more about Overleaf. A comment from one Judge reads:

    “WOW! This is one of the best-written projects I have judged. The team did an excellent job of explaining your ideas, development of the project, and the final results.”

    Another comment read:

    “I am speechless, what a fantastic mission and write-up!...”

    The girls are proud to say that Overleaf has been a game-changer in their eCYBERMISSION journey. At the National Event, the girls learned from Non-commissioned Officers, Army Research Lab Associates and experts from a variety of fields. Throughout the event, The Three Musketeeretts encouraged the students, teachers, mentors, and professionals to use Overleaf and the girls plan on creating an Overleaf template for future eCYBERMISSION participants.

    Photograph of The Three Musketeeretts and their Team Advisor
    The Three Musketeeretts and their Team Advisor at the National Judging & Educational Event in Leesburg, Virginia. Image source/credit: eCybermission 2017 by U.S.Army RDECOM is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

    The Three Musketeeretts were surprised to end their week of STEM activities, army physical training, and professional meet and greets with the National title of 9th grade First place! Their journey is not over yet, and they plan on continuing to document every last bit through Overleaf!


    Almost simultaneously, the Hagerty High School Robotics Team—Mechromancers—made it to the World Championships using Overleaf to collaborate on their engineering notebook!

    Photograph of The Mechromancers team members
    Mechromancers team members at the beginning of the 2016–2017 season.

    Back in August of 2016, Don Harper, Director of Technology at University of Central Florida and respected mentor of the Hagerty High School robotics program, reached out to Overleaf for a sponsored premium account to provide a collaborative platform for building the team’s notebook. The team created a sophisticated project notebook detailing their entire creative, collaborative journey, including biographies, business section, engineering section, trouble shooting, community outreach events and more. We provided Don and the robotics team with an Overleaf Pro group account and a brief tutorial video put together by our previously featured middle school robotics team, the Nano Ninjas.

    The Mechromancers participated in FIRST (For Inspiration of Science and Technology) FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge), a mid-level competition for students ages 12–18. The organization was founded by Dean Kamen and provides students with opportunities to participate in a variety of STEM related experiences. Their season kicked-off in the beginning of September 2016 with the reveal of the Velocity Vortex game/challenge. The game featured a field of scattered red and blue wiffle balls which robots had to collect and shoot into a basket located in the center. Additional autonomous navigation tasks were included, requiring robust software development. The Mechromancers set out to design and build a robot like no other—one almost entirely out of wood. They focused on agility and accuracy, creating a two-wheel shooting mechanism to propel the balls one after the other into the center basket. But they didn’t just get it right on the first try; it took several iterations and prototypes to achieve their desired goal. Overleaf provided a platform to track their engineering design process, noting every single idea and lesson learned.

    The robot’s unique look and custom components came from the team’s extensive use of Computer Aided Design (CAD). They created complex skeleton models and simulations in the CAD software, PTC Creo, adding screenshots of their work to their engineering notebook.

    A CAD drawing of the team’s robot, Timbur
    A CAD drawing of the Mechromancers’ robot called Timbur.

    A photograph of Timbur the robot in action during a competition A second photograph of Timbur the robot in action during a competition
    Two photographs showing Timbur in action during a competition.

    With mentorship from Mr. Harper, the team had the privilege of utilizing the manufacturing resources of the UCF Innovation Lab, allowing them to make their designs come to life. Wood served as a cost efficient and lightweight material which could be easily laser cut for their robot’s components.

    The Mechromancers were commended for their thorough and creative documentation of their season, receiving the Think Award at their League Championship and claiming a spot in the State competition. They continued to perfect their engineering notebook alongside their robot in preparation for the Florida State Championship. After a long day of battling, the Mechromancers went undefeated, claiming the State title and spot at the South Super-Regional. In addition, they were awarded the Rockwell Collins Innovate award for their creative robot design and proper documentation.

    In March 2017 they unveiled their unique wooden robot to the rest of the nation at the Georgia South Super-Regional. They continued their momentum from Florida, going once again undefeated in the qualifying matches. In the last match of the finals, they set a world record of 320 points, towering over all previous scores.

    Their last-minute revisions and printing efforts from the day before proved to be worth it because the Mechromancers received the coveted Inspire Award: the highest award given to a team for their exceptional notebook and robot performance. The tears of joy from their coach, Po Dickison, was a testament to their triumph.

    A photograph of The Mechromancers winning the INSPIRE Award
    The Mechromancers winning the INSPIRE Award at the South Super Regional National Competition in Athens, Georgia.

    After their win in Georgia, the team added the finishing touches to their notebook and robot for the last event of the season, the World Championship in Houston, Texas. The first two days of the competition was a bumpy ride, cursed by hardware and software issues. The team regrouped and fixed their bugs, working their way back to the top. They made it all the way to the final match, facing a heartbreaking 2–1 loss to a team from Montana. Overall, the team was content with the wonderful season they had, especially for all they had learned along the way.

    The Mechromancers wouldn’t have been able to have such a successful season without their partnership with Overleaf. They plan to use this elegant and versatile tool again for the upcoming 2017–2018 FIRST Tech Challenge season. Teaching new members how to use this tool is a top priority this year. They also plan to use Overleaf to write their technical paper for the summer Roboboat competition.

    Don shared with us:

    “We made it to the finals and lost a heartbreaker in the last match. This season we won the Florida State Championships and also the South Regional Championships in Georgia. In the Regional championships we won the robot competition and also we won the “Inspire Award”. This award takes into consideration the notebook and the overall team. It was the first time a team from Florida won the Inspire Award at Regionals.”

    The Mechromancers were also featured in a Forbes article! To learn more about Hagerty Robotic’s history, visit them on the web at

    Share your story too!

    The entire Overleaf team is so proud of these young researchers and grateful to their mentors! If your middle school or high school STEM or robotics teams are interested in a sponsored premium account to collaborate on your project and document your research, please contact the Overleaf team using this contact form!

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