Well-rounded Barstow School senior is achieving excellence in robotics

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This week's Reaching for Excellence young achiever is Barstow School senior Zuhair Hawa. The 18-year-old is busy traveling the nation, and competing with his robotics team, which is on its way to the world championships.

Zuhair is the captain of his robotics team, captain of the science and knowledge bowl teams, a National Merit finalist, and a recipient of the prestigious AXA Achievement scholarship.

But that's not all, he's also the drive team coach for the robotics club. It’s a club that not only received the engineering inspiration award for outreach work, but under zuhair's leadership, also just qualified for the world championships, something the Barstow School has not done since 2013.

"We have to design, prototype, iterate and finally manufacture the actual final robot we build," Zuhair explained.

Beginning in January, robotics clubs are given a challenge in the form of a game. The game changes every year. Students then have six weeks to create a robot that will give them the cutting edge when it comes to competing in the game at stake.

“He was like the one kid who took his robot home to make it all complicated and all complex and everything like that," said Gavin Wood, Barstow School science and math teacher.

Wood has worked with Zuhair for years, and says he's blown away by his growth.

“It's just really cool to see him like just kind of grow into the rock star I knew he was going to be when I first met him in middle school," Wood said.

Part of Zuhair's focus is also sharing his knowledge to help kids better themselves. He does this through the “Go Baby Go” organization -- which adapts power wheels cars for kids with disabilities.

“Take what we learn on the team and apply it into the real world, and try to create solutions for kids; not wait until we're three, four years down the line in college, but to actually do it as a high school student," Zuhair said.

Zuhair plans to become a doctor and will select his university in the coming weeks. The world championships for robotics takes place at the end of April in St. Louis. Right now, Zuhair is in Chicago gearing up for another competition this week.

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