An excited group of 32 Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy seniors geared up Saturday for the robotics challenge that will change their lives for the next six weeks. The Dos Pueblos High School students will build a Frisbee-golf-playing robot that will take part in the national FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition.
Engineering students, parents and mentors buzzed with anticipation at the kickoff of the 2013 FIRST Robotics Competition season.
“We’ve been waiting four years and now our time is finally here,” said team member Stephen Sorich.
In the six-week crunch time ahead, DPEA seniors will devote their time, energy and talent to a new responsibility: building a robot.??
As the seniors face this daunting task, they know they have big shoes to fill. Since its creation in 2006, DPHS’ robot-building Team 1717 has built a strong legacy for itself through a series of victories, attracting much media attention.
“(My biggest) fear is failing,” Sorich added. “Every year in the past, (the team) has succeeded above and beyond what everybody expected out of them. That’s kind of a lot of pressure.”
The team’s legacy is not the only cause for concern. The students are working against a rapidly moving clock.
“I think it looks like there’s a lot to learn in a very short amount of time, so I think that time’s going to be the biggest factor,” said Doug Bowlus, a mentor from L3-MariPro. Mentors such as Bowlus will provide expert help to students throughout the “build season.”
Despite the pressure, the DPEA seniors head into the challenge with enthusiasm and high spirits. Senior Vir Singh is looking forward to “breaking new boundaries” not only in a scientific aspect, but personally, too. Over the next hectic six weeks, these 32 seniors will not only become closer to each other but will feel the immense pressures of real-life deadlines. Many of them will have to sacrifice their favorite activities.
“All the shows that I like to watch begin in January!” exclaimed Anisha Kumar, who will now replace Pretty Little Liars with watching the robot come to life. Although some team members will maintain their already-tight schedules, many students have to give up sports, theater, and in some cases, Native American survival skills courses, to take part in robot-building.
These 32 students will virtually live with each other for the next six weeks, helping each other overcome the trials of minimal sleep, differing personalities and demanding work.
“I think I’ll learn the most by accommodating everyone and learning how to cohesively deal with the team,” said Agnetta Cleland.
In the end, they will gain lifelong friendships by completing this challenge together. Sara Peterson, another member of the team, said, “It’ll be fine because I’ll be here with my engineering family.”
This year’s team will tackle the challenge of “Ultimate Ascent,” the 2013 FIRST Robotics game. A robot built and controlled by students will launch Frisbees into goals of differing heights. Each game will end in a frantic race by the robot to “ascend” a pyramid-shaped steel structure.
All of FIRST’s games revolve around encouraging values of teamwork and “gracious professionalism,” ideals that will help students prepare for college and a job.
“You definitely see a parallel to this in the workplace when working on projects, and this game really offers a pretty big challenge for (the students),” said Anthony Turk, a DPEA alumnus and mentor now working at Raytheon.
Over the next six weeks an entire community of students, parents and supporters will come together to score a hole-in-one with the Engineering Academy’s next robot.
» Click here for more information on the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.
— The Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Public Relations & Event Reporting Team includes Caroline Whelan, Cole Smith, Raven Bouregy, Anthony Blair, Lea Tran Le and Davis Tisdale, all members of Dos Pueblos High’s Class of 2013.