High School Students Attack in Robotics Competition


NOT JUST GAMES: Philip Ho, a member of the Grace Brethren Jr/Sr High Lancers, sets up his robot for the autonomous round.

Jonathan Caballeros, Staff Writer

Students throughout Southern California competed in the Glendale College Robotics Competition on Saturday to promote the sciences, technology, engineering and math departments, otherwise known as STEM.

The main competition was comprised of 16 teams from 13 schools across three counties, which used Vex technology robots crafted by students from their respective school.

The Sun Valley High School Wildcats and the Grace Brethren Jr/Sr High Lancers of Simi Valley took the competition by storm, winning eight of their first nine round robin matches and later joining forces to become the winning alliance in the competition.

“This is our sixth design so far,” said Lancers team member Philip Ho. “It started so simple, and to be honest, we just finished it yesterday.”

The Lancers were formed three years ago and the team has successfully competed in many events.

Suman Gandham, the main mentor of the Lancers, said his curiosity started when he saw his first robotics match.

“They used to need help on how to build the robots,” said Gandham. “Now, they can do a lot of it themselves.”

For the members of the Sun Valley Wildcats, it’s a great end to their first and only year competing in robotics together.

“It feels really good to win,” said high school senior Jesus Pena, alongside team member and high school senior, Carl Nartia. “It’s our last game of the year, so it feels great,” said Nartia.

Thousand Oaks’ La Reina High School team Roboregents earned the excellence award, which is given to the team with the most ingenuity in the competition.

“It’s pretty ironic actually, since our robot actually broke down,” said Roboregents team member Deanna Rice, alongside Michaela Crispin. “It’s exhilarating,” Crispin added.

While the Vex competition ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., a side competition started at 11 a.m. and ran until noon, involving Legos and fully autonomous control.

Eight teams from four schools, all from Glendale Unified School District, competed using preset autonomous controls to control a small Lego robot to simulate a rover mission, gaining points for completing objectives.

Although there was a three-way tie for third place, a tiebreaker helped Theodore Roosevelt Middle School win all top three positions in the Lego competition.

Roosevelt teacher Richard Kamiya said their key to success is having a robotics class, rather than an after school program.

“We have a strong focus on STEM in Roosevelt,” said Kamiya. “They can work on robotics every day, rather than once a week like the other schools.”

Roosevelt also competed on the Vex competition, as the only middle school in competition.

“The kids did a good job. They worked hard for it,” said Kamiya.

Thomas Voden, a Title V STEM grant director, was the man behind the idea to bring the robotics competition to GCC.

“What we want to do is to make kids catch that curiosity,” said Voden. “To see how fun it can really by by choosing to go to college and to do something in STEM.”

Voden wants students to see the effects of having engineering majors. “It’s a broad field and can be a pleasure to work in,” said Voden.

Students can learn more about robotics on campus by visiting glendale.edu/robotics, and by taking robotics classes offered on campus.

To learn more about Vex robotics competitions visit Vexrobotics.com.