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Two Yuma teams finish strong at regional robotics
Two robotics teams from Yuma competed in the 2012 Arizona Regional FIRST Robotics Competition last week and placed in the top half of the competition consisting of 50 teams from Arizona, New Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Mexico.
The Gila Monsters, a group of 12 high school students from various Yuma schools, placed 24th, and the Decepta-Kings, a team of 20 students from Kofa High School, placed 20th.
During the competition, students attempted to complete an obstacle course and score goals with their robot that they had six weeks to design, program and build.
Prizes for top-ranking teams, ranging from freshman to senior students, include varying amounts of college scholarships.
Rakesh Pangasa, team coach for the Gila Monsters team, noted that their group played through 11 matches and made it to the quarterfinals, where they were then eliminated.
“The robot has to be preprogrammed to accomplish a mission,” Pangasa said. “This year's competition was called Rebound Rumble and students had to have the robots shoot baskets into four hoops in 15 seconds; each robot could throw in two balls. They were excited they did very well.
“The students work with professional engineers, they get the opportunity to think through solutions to various problems and they learn a lot. The mere fact that you're surrounded by so many intelligent colleagues and so many professional engineers working as coaches and mentors — it is a wonderful opportunity for anybody to be around.”
Decepta-Kings' co-sponsor Anasone Silivongxay noted that the Kofa students were competing for the first time and should feel very proud of their efforts.
“They came together as a team and overcame so many obstacles such as mechanical, technical and electrical errors and failures. Instead of giving up, the kids went out and networked with other teams to help them. They used their critical thinking skills to problem-solve.”
Kofa students said they enjoyed the competition and feel like the experience they gained this year will help them get a leg up on the competition for next year.
Sophomore Judith Barraza said, “I felt that it was a good learning experience and it showed what we needed to improve on. We had fun interacting with other teams.”
Jose Villa, a junior, added, “I felt that it was a great experience because we were among our peers that had the similar motivation. It made us realize how much we know about robotics and how much more we still have to learn. We can hardly wait for the next building season to begin because we are going all out.”