Burroughs Robotic Team advances to state competition

Burroughs Robotic Team advances to state competitionROBOTICS FOR STEM –

One of the Robotic Burros teams will advance to state championships for the VEX Robotics Tipping Point Competition. But all four teams associated with the local Robotics for STEM program are celebrating distinction and high performances in the 30-team league. “I think one of the keys to their success is they put in the time — they showed up early, stayed late, came in on lunches and weekends. It made a difference,” said Damien Jacotin, Engineering teacher.

“One other thing to keep in mind is that the 20 kids in our robotics program do not have a dedicated class, which many other teams in California have. So if they are involved in sports or music or other extra-curricular activities they often have to choose between robotics and something else.”

Jacotin and Robotics for STEM founder John Paul agreed that robotics is unique in offering such a long-range project for students to work on.

Each year the competition has a different format and objective. The students find out in June, and typically spend their summers designing and programming a robot that can execute the necessary objectives. “They design, build, test, modify, program — keeping at it until they are satisfied — learn to drive it, face other teams, and keep refining everything along the way,” said Jacotin.

“One of the things we stress is having a sound technical process,” said Paul. “When something fails, we teach the kids to do root-cause analysis. We don’t want them to stumble through trial and error, we want them to know how to identify the problem and how to address it.”

Students also get opportunities to collaborate and challenge each other to stretch outside of their comfort zones.

“We are very grateful to have support from ‘J.P.’ and Robotics for STEM,” said Jacotin. “If I had to take on the finances and logistics and all the other support he provides, I would have to rethink my ability to continue.”

Paul is the COO of New Directions Technologies, Inc. When he started at the company, he was approached by founder Cedric Knight about finding a way to invest in the community. Since Paul has his master’s degree in robotics, he reached out to the schools to see if they could find a way to get kids more involved in robotics. At least one local team has made it to the state level of competition ever since.

Robotics for STEM raises money to ensure that teams have funding to purchase equipment and register at competitions. “So far, we have been able to meet all the requests. But we could always use more support from interested businesses and individuals in the community,” said Paul.

For more information about Robotics for STEM, visit www.roboticsforstem.com.

Courtesy Photo: Robotic Burros 7422B, pictured from left, are (front) Albert Rosas, Mozzma Chaudry, (back) Gabriel Neipp, Peter Neipp, Jonah Scanlon, Logan Burnes and Kaleb Hawkins.

Story First Published: 2022-02-11