ROBSTOWN, Texas — Robstown Early College High School’s drone team will represent the Coastal Bend in a national robotics competition this weekend.
During the Thanksgiving break, Team Atlas learned they had earned the opportunity to compete in the 2022 Bell Advanced Vertical Robotics Championship.
It will take place on December 3rd at the Bell Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas. On this occasion, the team takes part in the event for the first time, and if they win, they receive a trophy and a free ride in a Bell helicopter.
Aubrea Mungia, Efren Perez, Jayden Rodriguez, Daniel Salazar, Sebastian (Ty) Tagle, Asher Tooley, Nia Zuniga, John Galindo and Emanuel Villegas are members of the group.
At the end of September they started working together to build a large drone. The competition requires the team to use the drone they have built and other devices they have manipulated to complete various assigned tasks. Team Atlas has already won a national competition and received the “Exemplary Team Award”.
However, this does not mean that the work for the national competition is over.
“We’ll probably schedule a late Thursday night before we go to the competition,” said Marietta Saenz, a teacher at Robstown Early College High School. “There are many cables and components that go into the drone.
She added that there are often things that don’t go right and they find a way of tracing it back to the part. She said it was like a maze.
“When they came home from the other competition, they had a kind of vision of how to proceed. So they had to make the necessary changes and things so that we could better prepare for the national championship,” she said.
In addition to the math classes at the school, Saenz also has a technical background, making the instructor a qualified trainer for Team Atlas.
Saenz is also a former student at Robstown Early College High School, years before the school offered robotics classes to students.
“I was talking to someone this morning about possibilities, and this opportunity that the kids are getting now to play around with the things that I played around with in college, like the 3D printers, the drones, and all the schematics and all that. I have Didn’t experience that until I was in college. So giving that opportunity at a lower educational level will definitely open a lot more doors for them,” she added.
With new opportunities for youth, Saenz hopes to inspire them to pursue a career in science, technology, mathematics or engineering (STEM). That’s high school senior John Galindo’s plan.
He said he wanted to study mechanical engineering. Through Team Atlas, he was able to develop new skills.
“When I started I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was working ahead. When I was soldering, I didn’t know how to do it, but I got the hang of it and I was good at it,” he said.
Sebastian Tagle, a high school junior and another member of Team Atlas, wants to major in computer science or engineering after graduating from high school. He said joining the robotics team helped him develop work skills and build relationships.
“I’m excited about the on-the-job experience and something I’ll step into in the future. It just paves the way,” Tagle said. “It’s fun to work in a team. It’s almost like a family now because we spend so many hours after school.”
The number of students who could join Team Atlas was limited to 8-10 people. However, the school assembles a new team to help build a ground robot that will be created to compete in similar robotics competitions. Robstown Early College High School also offers courses in robotics.