New Albany News

New Albany senior honored for high-tech accomplishments


New Albany High School senior Lauryn Woodyard will be recognized in March with a 2013 Aspirations in Computing award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

The award "honors young women at the high school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. Recipients are selected for their computing and information technology aptitude, leadership ability, academic history and plans for post-secondary education," according to the organization's website.

Woodyard was a runnerup in last year's competition. New Albany's Katherine Miller, who now is studying chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, received the top honor last year.

Woodyard said she plans to study engineering in college, though she's not sure yet what type of engineering or which college she'll attend.

She told the New Albany-Plain Local school board Jan. 28 that her journey to an engineering career began when she took New Albany High School's Robotics I course her sophomore year.

"It awoke something within me," she said.

Working with a simple robot that had to be programmed to move and could only "beep" responses helped her learn how to solve problems, overcome challenges and work as a member of a team, Woodyard said.

In her sophomore year, Woodyard and other robotics students partnered with peers in a New Albany High School acting class to produce a theater production featuring the robot.

The "robot theater" has continued to expand and has become an annual event at the high school. It also was featured last year in The New York Times.

Teamwork came into play again Woodyard's junior year when she worked with five other New Albany students at the Air Force Research Lab Discovery Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. During the program, the students solved problems in a virtual-reality laboratory and were pitted against college-age students.

Woodyard also was among the students selected to intern in the Air Force lab's Summer at the Edge program. During the internship, Woodyard led a team to develop a program that would allow a person to remotely control a robot in a rescue operation using a computer tablet and an Android-based operating system.

This year, Woodyard is developing a Robotics II pilot course at New Albany High School to fulfill her senior seminar project, a graduation requirement that requires students to research an idea and then create a product or project.

Woodyard is among a group of New Albany students who will speak at eTech Ohio's 2013 Ohio Educational Technology Conference Feb. 11-13 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The students will be included in two panel discussions for educators and administrators.