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Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Captures 2nd Place at Las Vegas Robotics Finals

Team 1717 shows grit, determination to battle back in warmup for FIRST Robotics World Championships

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The glittering lights of Las Vegas gained a few more twinkles Saturday afternoon as the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy robotics team put on a gritty performance to earn a runner-up finish at the FIRST Robotics Regional Championship. DPEA’s Team 1717 was also given the prestigious Industrial Design award for their robot.

The final match was decided when one of DPEA’s teammates was not able to function during the championship. That made it basically two against three, and DPEA’s team could not make up the difference. Even so, teachers and students were proud of their accomplishment.

“They really stuck with it through a long, tough day,” teacher Sam Ridgeway said. “Then to do as well as they did, one robot down in the final, was amazing.”

Co-driver Phil Downey was undaunted.

“It was a lot of hard work, but I think we’re all doing OK,” he said. “We did the best we could. But we’l be ready to jump out of the gates next time.”

That next time will be April 24 when DPEA once again takes part in the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis.

On Saturday, to make it to the Las Vegas finals, Team 1717 had to bounce back from two early losses after a 7-0 record on Friday. The DPEA robot battled mechanical issues as well as determined opponents. Student Delia Bullock said the team was somewhat perplexed at what was wrong with the robot, but like a good NASCAR pit crew, the students dove into the robot’s inner workings.

It is in the pit where the DPEA students really put their four years of hard work and study into action. Since they were freshmen, they have progressed through a series of progressively more complex engineering projects. The skills and expertise they learned along the way are put into competitive, high-energy action during FIRST events.

A tired DPEA team headed into their final qualifying match Saturday morning needing a win to ensure a high seeding. After making all of its shots during the “autonomous” period, in which the robot acts on a pre-programmed set of instruction, Downey and co-driver Anthony Blair guided the robot to four more high-scoring shots. A final score of 221-42 left DPEA in third place for the championship round.

“In the first two matches opponents saw our tactics and picked up on things to stop us,” student Katie Tovar said. “They definitely played their games well. I was a little worried after losing the first two matches, but I had faith in our team and it helped us in the long run to learn new ways of playing.”

That faith did indeed pay off. After making key adjustments in their third match of the morning, DPEA rebounded with a key win against the then-second-ranked team and came away with a victory. That set up the chance to earn that third-place ranking.

The team’s performance in the finals capped off a thrilling afternoon of action. After finishing third in qualifying, DPEA chose to partner with a team from Dana Point/Irvine, representing a collection of schools from that area. Together, those two teams nabbed the Nerd Herd robot from Carson as a defender.

With Las Vegas in the rear-view mirror, Team 1717 starts to make it plans for the FIRST Robotics World Championships, which begin April 24 in St. Louis.

» Click here for more information on the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.

» Click here for more information on the DPEA Foundation. Click here to make an online donation.

— Jim Buckley is a communications mentor with the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy. Reporting was provided by Britni Tisdale. Photos by student Ashley Almada and mentor Paul Clay.

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