Finding Nemo: Skyline Robotics, Band, Coding, and the Future

Nemo Neiburger is 18 years old and has lived in Ann Arbor his entire life.

He has been active on the Skyline Robotics Team, participated in band, and has many fond memories of his time in highschool.

“My favorite memory of my senior year was performing the senior skit at marching band camp,” recalled Neiburger. “What I liked about the senior skit was how completely freeform it was. The script was non-existent and our props consisted of anything at the camp we could get our hands on.”

He also has enjoyed helping others on the team to learn and grow. He sees this as a way of giving back and to ensure the team can continue on in a positive way in the future.

“I’ve been on the (robotics) team for all four years of high school,” he described. “My most proud contribution to the team was training the younger programmers so that they are more prepared to take the lead in future years.”

The Skyline Robotics season was cut short this year, like many other clubs and athletic programs, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team built an amazing robot and was at least able to see it perform at one competition. 

At the Kettering competition, the team ended qualification matches at rank 2, which was their highest rank since 2012. They have a record of 11 wins and one loss during the competition. Their robot was also awarded the Quality Award sponsored by Motorola Solutions Foundation. The team created the best ball shooting robot in the state. 

Nemo’s father, Eli Neibuger, is also a mentor on the Skyline Robotics Team. This includes working on t-shirt design, sponsorships, website, and supervising the making of the video. Nemo was the Lead Computer Design person on the team. He worked with programming, training other programmers, and was process-oriented in giving inexperienced team members time to code for the robot.

“I liked having my Dad as a mentor,” Nemo stated. “However, with him being the business team mentor and me being the lead programmer, we did not work together very much.”

Team members agree that not only does robotics provide hands-on learning of great STEAM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) skills, it promotes teamwork, camaraderie, and helping others. The team agrees that it is a positive experience for all involved.

“I would absolutely encourage other people to do robotics,” said Nemo. “Working on a huge project like a robot for so long feels much more productive than the projects we were assigned in school. There was a much more tangible goal to work towards, so it was very good at motivating me to work.”

It has also influenced what Nemo wants to do in life.

“Robotics has helped reaffirm my desired career path of becoming a professional programmer,” Nemo stated. “Solving programming problems for robotics was much more challenging than my coursework and encouraged me to go into software engineering.”

Nemo plans to stay in Ann Arbor and will be chanting “Go Blue” and marching to “Hail to the Victors” during his college days.

“I am going to the University of Michigan to study computer science,” he stated. “I chose the University of Michigan because I love the city of Ann Arbor, I’m enamored with the Michigan Marching Band, and it’s where I’ve always wanted to go.”

He stated he actually decided to defer his admission until the Fall of 2021. 

“I’m deferring a year because of how uncertain the Fall 2020 semester is,” he stated. “I don’t want to go to in-person classes if it’s not safe, but I also don’t want to have to take my college coursework online. However, the marching band season will almost certainly be cancelled. I’m fortunate enough to have the resources and time to defer my admission, and I believe that doing so is my best option.”

Nemo plans to continue to spend time working in programming in the near future as well.

“Throughout this summer and the following year, I plan to contribute code to Code for America’s civic engagement software products,” described Nemo.

For now, Nemo does have some parting advice for all returning to school in the fall in whatever capacity and for all others as well.

“Wear a mask!” he concluded.

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