Tech

December 20, 2013

Desert HS robotics team takes on its FIRST challenge

Desert Jr. and Sr. High School students from the DHS Scorpions Robotics Team work on their autonomous robot under the supervision of Edwards military and civilian volunteers in preparation for the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics qualifying competition in Claremont, Calif., Dec. 14. The team went on to win the competition where they will ultimately compete in the regional competition which will be held in Los Angeles Feb. 22, 2014.

What initially started as a base-wide e-mail sent out in search of volunteers to help with the newly-formed Desert Jr. and Sr. High School Robotics Team has quickly turned into a success story that highlights the hard work of dedicated mentors and students.

After entering in the club’s first robotics competition as part of the FIRST Tech Challenge program Dec. 14, the DHS Scorpions Robotics Team won their qualifying tournament in Claremont, Calif.

“This rookie team is off to a great start. We are so proud of the boys and grateful for each volunteer’s support,” said Col. Robby Weaver, 412th Maintenance Group commander and coach of the DHS Scorpions Robotics Team. “There has been other robotics teams on Edwards in the past, but this is the first year in recent history we’ve had a Desert High team.”

Comprised of civilian and military volunteers, Weaver said what ultimately led to the win was all the work and time put in by all team members.

“We met about five hours a week and a lot of kids put in time and work outside of the robotics lab, so I would say about seven to 10 hours a week per team member were spent getting ready for this competition,” Weaver said.

According to Weaver, the biggest challenge was preparing within a four-month window that got underway in September and involved mentors training students all the particulars of robotics, programming and autonomy.

The newly-formed Desert Jr. and Sr. High School Scorpions Robotics Team pose for a team photo prior to preparing for their FIRST Tech Challenge robotics qualifying competition in Claremont, Calif. Dec. 14. The DHS robotics team was comprised of both civilian and military volunteers who mentored the students in the areas of robotics, programming and autonomy.

“Before joining the club, I had almost no knowledge in programming and I didn’t have that much knowledge in robotics, but with the help of our mentors we eventually learned what we needed to build a robot,” said Geoffrey Holmes, 18, DHS senior and team captain. “Our mentors showed us the path to get to the solution, but didn’t give us the solution, so the majority of what we finally came up with here depended on us to build.”

“Once the 412th Test Wing commander put the word out that we were looking for volunteers, we found ourselves with more volunteers than we have kids here in the club,” Weaver said. “The support we’ve received from all our volunteers has been phenomenal, especially at a base that’s all about innovation and firsts.”

Ultimately, this win moved the team onto the regional competition which will be held in Los Angeles Feb. 22, 2014.

The team’s next local competition will be held in Lancaster, Calif., on February 1.

For more information about the Scorpions Robotics team, contact Coach Weaver at robby.weaver@yahoo.com.




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