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Robotics team takes on FIRST challenge

Desert High School’s next competition slated for Feb. 1

12/20/2013, 12:23 p.m.
What initially started as a base-wide e-mail sent out in search of volunteers to help with the newly-formed Desert Jr. ...
Robotics Team

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 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.

“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 have 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 about all the particulars 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, the competition win moved the team to the regional competition which will be held in Los Angeles Feb. 22.

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

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