The excitement was palpable last week in the workshops of the Elings Center for Engineering Education as Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy seniors geared up for their big trip.
On April 25, 32 seniors from the high school and eight mentors will be heading to St. Louis for the FIRST Robotics World Championship, which will pit 350 teams against one another.
DP’s Team 1717 has a chance to claim the world championship for the first time in the program’s history.
During this year’s challenge, DP’s robot will take part in a basketball-inspired game called the Rebound Rumble. The robot was built to shoot the balls into the hoops, shimmy across a metal barrier and even balance on a tilting wood ramp while racking up points.
The students spent six weeks designing and building the robot. What they came away with is the Lindsay Rose, dedicated to a teammate who died in a 2009 surfing accident.
It’s an impressive 120-pound robot that shoots foam basketballs with incredible accuracy. It’s also giving the team what program director Amir Abo-Shaeer calls their “best shot ever” at winning it all.
That’s best illustrated in the Eling’s Center Conference Room, where six robots sit lined up and dormant, each one built by that year’s senior engineering class, spanning back from 2005. Each one is more sophisticated than the last, and Abo-Shaeer says 2012 is the year the team is at its most competitive.
Earlier this month, the team won first place in the FIRST Robotics Central Valley Regional, and also won the Innovation in Control Award for their robot programming.
Back in 2005, with that first competitive robot, “I couldn’t even fathom we’d be where we are,” he said.
He acknowledges that it has been a year of transition with the new facility. The program just moved into its new engineering building last November, and this is the first competition since being in the new space.
With the new facility, Abo-Shaeer said it’s a lot to live up to, but that the long-term benefits for the students will be evident.
“The real results are the educational outcomes,” he said.
Talking to the students, it’s clear what kind of outcome this year’s effort has wrought.
“We’re really proud of all we’ve done so far,” said Justin Morris, who helped write the software code that allows the robot to use a camera to help with its target.
Laura Vayen worked as a machinist that helped make all of the gears housed in the robot.
“It’s so gratifying to see it all come together,” she said, even though the work was tedious — measuring and cutting the gears down to the thousandth of an inch.
Click here for more information about the championships, including how to watch the games live.