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Robots on the Golf Course! (Frisbee Golf, That Is)

Kickoff_FeaturedBy Caroline Whelan, Cole Smith, Raven Bouregy,  Anthony Blair, Lea Tran Le, Davis Tisdale | DPEA Press Relations Team

January 5, 2013

January 5: Frisbee golf is not just for recreation anymore. As of  Saturday, it became serious business.

Robotic business.

The 32 students of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy  seniors are gearing up for the robotics challenge that will change their  lives for the next six weeks. They will design and build a Frisbee-golf  playing robot that will take part in the 2013 FIRST Robotics Competition.

Engineering students, parents, and mentors buzzed with anticipation  at for the kickoff of the 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 crunchtime 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, the robot-building Team 1717 at  DPHS has built a strong legacy for itself through a series of victories,  attracting much media attention. “[My biggest] fear is failing,”  added Sorich. “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 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.”

KickoffDespite 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!” says Anisha Kumar, who will now replace “Pretty  Little Liars” with watching the robot come to life. Though some team  members will maintain their already-tight schedules, many students have  to give up sports, theatre, 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,” says Agnetta Cleland. In the end, they will gain  life long friendships by completing this challenge together. Sara Peterson,  another member of the team, says “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.

For more details regarding the 2013 FIRST Robotics game click here.

About Malika Agrawal

Malika Agrawal is the Managing Editor for News and Opinion. This is her second and final year on the Charger Account.

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