DUNCANVILLE (AP) — The Duncanville Police Department’s service robot was starting to look like a $10,000 paperweight.READ MORE: Russ Martin, Longtime North Texas Radio Personality, Found Dead At Frisco Home
When the donation from the Texas 1033 Military Surplus Program failed to function, Lt. Gene Kropff was ready to ship it off to the FBI for help — but then a solution closer to home presented itself.
The Dallas Morning News reports Kropff sent the robot to the Duncanville High School engineering department, where it caught the attention of Adrian Mayberry, who decided to fix it himself.
Adrian would tell you that he is just an average 17-year old student — his after-school hobby is sleeping, he says. College is a distant thought, and his inspiration to study engineering came from his favorite Avengers character, Iron Man.
But in the words of his robotics teacher and his mother, Adrian has a tenacious work ethic and reads books on physics for fun.
“I was so impressed by his tenacity to get the project done,” engineering teacher Eika Johnson said. “He gained a lot of confidence from completing this. He started something he wasn’t sure he could do, but now he’s made a huge contribution to our community, and a lot of doors have been opened to him.”
When Johnson received the robot, she intended to use it as a class project for her seniors.
“I felt really honored that they brought the robot to us,” she said. “At first, many students were intimidated by it, but I assigned it to a group of seniors because I wanted them to get the satisfaction of starting a project and finishing it completely.”
As school demands increased and graduation neared, the seniors found themselves unable to dedicate the hours needed to identify and repair the robot’s issues, Johnson said. So the robot, which has never been given a name, sat untouched for months.
Adrian noticed it in the corner of the classroom and asked if he could take it on as a personal project. He said the box it was in looked too important to be overlooked.
For weeks, Adrian sat at his kitchen table after dinner to read and re-read the manual that came with the robot. Once he identified the mechanical and software issues, he stayed after school every day to work on the robot.
“There were mechanical issues that he fixed that no one else even caught,” Johnson said. “His only roadblock in the process was not believing that he could do it.”READ MORE: Dallas County Reports 570 New COVID-19 Cases, 10 Deaths Saturday
Two and a half months and an estimated 100 hours of after-school work later, Adrian had the robot completely functioning.
“When I first got it to move forward, that’s when I knew I had accomplished something,” Adrian said.
It turns out the controller — which belongs to an Xbox system — wasn’t communicating with the computer, making the robot virtually useless. The robot was also having trouble turning, so Adrian had to replace the wheels.
It was bittersweet for Adrian to hand the robot back to Duncanville police, but Kropff assured him that his work with the robot is far from done. Kropff plans to have Adrian attend SWAT training sessions to teach officers how to use the robot and how to make tweaks on the machine so that it can be used for a wider range of police activities.
The robot, which is rigged with a remote-controlled camera, will be used by the SWAT team to enter danger zones and check for things such as explosives.
Adrian’s mother, Monica Mayberry, says that she knew all along that Adrian was capable of completing a project like this.
“It’s amazing. But am I really surprised that it’s Adrian? No,” she said. “Even though I am his mom, I can still step out of my mom role and look at him for the man that he is, and I am not surprised.”
Johnson says this project gave Adrian confidence in himself that he may have lacked before.
“I was intimidated by the robot at first, but I still wanted to take it on no matter how intimidating it was because I didn’t want our school to fail when the police department was needing our help,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure that Duncanville had some good news to give.”
As for Kropff, he is confident that Adrian has big things ahead of him, he said.
“Adrian is a very impressive young man,” Kropff said. “He’s very intelligent. The sky’s the limit for him.”MORE NEWS: Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler Dies At 82
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