South Caldwell robotics team advances to the world FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) competition in Houston, Texas, after engineering a robot and winning in North Carolina.
In their 8th season of competition, the South Caldwell High School robotics team, called ROBOMonkeys, finished 6th out of 64 teams at the statewide FIRST Robotics Competition held at Campbell University, qualifying the team to compete in the World Championship event.
“We are so excited to be a part of the most brilliant student minds in technology competition,” said Michael Bingham, coach and science teacher. “There are no instructions given, and each team uses their own engineering ideas for competition, but the benefits of FIRST go far beyond the physical.”
FIRST is a competition that builds team work and engineering problem solving skills, and is often referred to as the varsity sport of the mind. Before ever arriving at the competition arena, teams must design, build, program, and learn to drive their robot.
Team members of this year’s winning South Caldwell team include the following students: Adan Wilson, Adrian Aldridge, Alex Billegas, Brandon Deal, Brooke Elliott, Jareth Taylor, Kayla Rutter, Raul Rodriguez, and George Hickein from the Caldwell Career Center Middle College. The team is also mentored by Jordan Spears, Jason Zaldivar, Jackie Gutierrez, Kaleb Watson, and Zac Epps, a practice that is greatly encouraged through the FIRST vision and mission to engage students in a mentor-based program that builds science, engineering and technology skills and that fosters well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication and leadership.
Since the first year of involvement when South Caldwell High School placed 10th out of 40 teams and was awarded Rookie Team of the Year, the robotics team has offered an opportunity for students to be engaged and inspired in science and technology and contribute meaningfully to the nation’s technological enterprise.
During robotics’ March Madness, the South Caldwell competed at the district level in Greensboro and placed in the semi-final round. The team was also honored with the Winners of the Creativity in Engineering Award and qualified as Captain of one of the Top 8 Alliances. Then, the following weekend in March the team traveled to Asheville for another district competition and placed in the quarter finals, accumulating enough points to qualify for the state competition which was held last weekend.
“To compare our win to that of the NCAA finals, we were like Gonzaga and Carolina was like the NC School of Math and Science,” said Bingham. “For the entire competition, there was an intense rivalry with South Caldwell High School and the most highly promoted math and science high school in the state.”
Google has been the premiere corporate sponsor from the beginning and has provided support throughout. The Education Foundation Inc. of Caldwell County has also been committed to students’ involvement and participation at every level.
As students prepare for the “hands – on, minds-on” process of technological innovation, the team is accepting any donations for expenses to attend the world-wide competition. To donate, call South Caldwell High School at 828.396-2188.
“The building of the actual robot is secondary to the long-lasting interest in engineering and science education developed by students who participate in this project,” said Bingham.