Robotic Burros head to state

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Robotic Burros head to stateTwo teams from the Burroughs High School robotics team will head to state championships this weekend as the five-year-old program continues to expand in numbers, as well as in the loftiness of its goals.

The VEX Robotics California State Championships have increased so vastly in participation that the Golden State’s final level of competition will be hosted at six different sites. While the qualifying rounds for the national tournament have already closed, winners may qualify for the World Championships in Kentucky this April.

The varsity team for the Robotic Burros (formally Team 7422X, as they are identified by VEX), has already qualified for the national competition, and won virtually every distinction possible during the qualifying season in the home league.

They finished 1st place in their regional competition, while also capturing the Excellence Award for overall design, coding capabilities and documentation.

They were also acknowledged Tuesday for their achievements by Trowbridge and Trowbridge, which made a $10,000 donation during their visit to the robotics room.

This year, one of the junior teams — 7422B (dubbed A-Aron for the Key and Peele savvy among us) will also be attending state championships this weekend.

“This is the first year we have had a non-varsity team qualify,” said BHS teacher and robotics advisor Damien Jacotin.

“I can’t say I am surprised, because honestly I thought all three of our teams had a chance this year, but I am definitely happy to see how it worked out.”

This advancement is evidence of a growing and thriving program, which Jacotin says continues to attract new members. However, a great deal of time and investment is required to remain competitive, he said.

“I know that a lot of students find it challenge to balance work or sports and other things with robotics.”

But for those who have made this their priority, it continues to pay off, he said.

The is the fifth season that the Robotic Burroughs have been operating in this format, said Jacotin, and the third year that at least one team has made it to the state finals.

“This is the fourth time that we go to nationals,” he said. “Our rookie year, we made it to nationals but did not qualify for state. But no BHS team has made it to the World Championship yet — which is ultimately our goal.”

Those goals require a lot of fundraising, said Jacotin.

Robotics for STEM, an organization operated by John Paul, raises thousands of dollars each year to pay tournament fees, equipment upgrades and other incidental needs of seven teams — three from BHS, and two each from Murray Middle School (which is also sending a team to state this year) and Immanuel Christian School.

“NDTI and Trowbridge & Trowbridge are the two main sponsors of the organization, with significant contributions to promote STEM in our community,” said Paul.

Adobe joined that list group this year. “I am thankful for their financial sponsorship, without which we would not be able to support this extensive participation.”

So far, that fundraising support has helped the Robotic Burros’ varsity team to nationals. If either team qualifies for the World Championships, they will need to start over to raise the required support.

“I am really hoping that BHS will qualify to go to World Championships this year,” said Paul.

Results from this weekend will be reported in a future edition.

Pictured: BHS team 7422B tests their robot in the practice field. — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-03-06