CNM Hackerspace Club Wins Prestigious Spot as Only American Team to Compete in Upcoming International Robotics Competition
Hackerspace Club members driving Hal through practice course

CNM Hackerspace Club Wins Prestigious Spot as Only American Team to Compete in Upcoming International Robotics Competition

Eight members of the Hackerspace Club will be participating in the annual Pi Wars robotics competition in England against teams from around the world
February 27, 2024
For members of the CNM Hackerspace Club, the words “raspberry pi” have taken on an entirely new meaning.

Instead of cooking up a delicious dessert, they have spent the last five months designing, building, and writing the code for a raspberry pi single-board computer that now powers a robot they’ll be entering in the annual Pi Wars competition in Cambridge, England this April. 

“This is our fifth year competing, and our first time competing in-person post-COVID” says Kerry Bruce, CNM faculty member and Hackerspace advisor. “I’m excited to take this group and give them the opportunity not only to compete, but to also build community with other teams from around the world.”

The team has been preparing for Pi Wars since last term, starting with their application. Hackerspace was chosen out of more than 100 applicants from around the world, and is the only team competing from the United States. 

Once they were accepted, they got straight to work on designing and building their robot they’ve named “Hal.” Jason Stephens, an AI and Machine Learning student and President of Hackerspace, took the lead during this part of the process. 

“The robot has to fit on a letter-sized piece of paper, so it was a challenge to design and 3D print the base within those parameters,” he explains. “I have several of my own 3D printers and this was a really fun way to put them to good use.”

Now, the team is diligently working on Hal’s coding. This year’s competition includes challenges that need to be completed via remote control and autonomously, adding an extra layer of complexity. 

Learning and applying this kind of complex coding has been the most fun, and most challenging, part of the process for Erin Pitcher, a Computer Science student. 

“Coming into this I was really not that knowledgeable about robots, but I was excited to be a part of the team,” she says. “Since the beginning, everyone has been super helpful and patient with me, and my skills have grown so much since last term. I have never once felt like I didn’t belong on the team.” 

In addition to competing, the Hackerspace team will volunteer during the first day of the competition where young children and their families compete in the “Beginners'' category. They will also have the opportunity to visit several museums while in Cambridge. 

With just a little over a month before they cross the pond, Kerry is excited to see his students compete in person and to help provide them with a unique learning experience. 


“This entire experience has an impact not just on these students’ education journey, but on their future careers as well,” Kerry says. “While they are on the team, they are learning how to hold each other accountable, meet deadlines, problem solve, and develop so many more real-world skills. Once they graduate, they are much more prepared to enter the workforce and can prove they have both the technical and soft skills needed to succeed.”

As for Jason and Erin and the rest of the team, they’re excited to see all of their hard work come to fruition on the competition floor.

"I’m just really excited to see my team and all of the other teams work together during the competition, and to see Hal perform his best,” Erin says with a smile. “Whether or not we win, this has been and will continue to be an amazing experience for all of us!”

If you would like to support the Hackerspace Club, they are hosting the following fundraisers:

  1. Thursday, Feb. 29: Red Robin Meal Fundraiser - Anyone who goes to the Red Robin (2100 Louisiana Blvd NE) on Feb. 29 can say they want to support Hackerspace and 20% of the bill will go back to the club.
  2. Now-End of March: Savers Donations - Drop off your kitchen-sized trash bags of donations to Kerry Bruce (CNM Main Campus, Smith Brasher Hall, Room 112) and they will be donated to Savers.
  3. T-shirt Sponsors: Local companies can sponsor Hackerspace and have their logo placed on the back of this year's club t-shirts. Contact Kerry Bruce at for more information.