Robot-building students of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy turned into show people at the annual Celebration of Robotics on Friday night at Dos Pueblos High School. As hundreds of supporters, family members and sponsors — including Virgil Elings, benefactor of the Elings Performing Arts Center and the Elings Center for Engineering Education — looked on, the students described the process they went through to build and operate their award-winning 2014 robot.
Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf was on hand to present DPEA students with special recognition of their achievements this past year.
On the Elings stage, after thanking community sponsors and DPEA mentors, the students took turns taking the audience step by step through building a prototype, programming the robot and planning game strategy. Their hard work certainly paid off. DPEA’s “Penguinbot IX” won the FIRST Robotics Los Angeles Regional and finished second in Las Vegas. As those and at the national competition, they captured numerous prestigious awards for the engineering and innovation of their robot.
The hard work will pay off in the future, too. The event program listed the many world-class universities that this year’s seniors will attend, including UC Berkeley, MIT, Caltech, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvey Mudd, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and many more.
Just as the seniors worked together as a 30-member team to create their robot — which zoomed and zipped across the stage to the delight of the younger members of the audience — DPEA staff praised the teamwork that made the academy go this year.
“This whole success of this academy is due to altruism,” said DPEA director Amir Abo-Shaeer. “It’s amazing to see what can happen when people get together behind an idea. Whatever idea or challenge comes our way, everyone seems to rally behind it.
“I thank the community profusely for helping us achieve this vision. What we’ve done here is an example of what we can do to communities around the country.”
Abo-Shaeer also announced that next school year, DPEA will expand to its full capacity of 100 students in each of its four classes, freshmen to seniors. Plus, the senior capstone project will expand beyond robotics to include a new project in mechatronics; much more news on that exciting development will be coming in the future.
On this night, however, the students celebrated the past year, adding one final memory to a robot season none of them will ever forget.
» Click here for more information on the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.
— Jim Buckley is a communications mentor with the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.