Pender County students to compete in global robotics competition


Pender High School students Leonel Mendez (left) and Miguel Cruz work to solve an electrical issue on the robot

Miguel Cruz handles electrical wires that play an integral role on the robot.

Leonel Mendez focuses on tightening a bolt.

Pender County students to compete in global robotics competition
Posted on 01/25/2016
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Pender County high school students are hard at work designing and building a robot to compete in world-wide robotics competition 1st Inspire Robotics.


“I like the idea of being able to work with real-world engineering concepts and not just sitting behind a computer or textbook,” team captain Miguel Cruz said while manipulating electrical wiring with his hands. “Now that I actually get to practice what I learn — it’s fulfilling.”


Pender High School Chemistry teacher Jared Pinkston, who is serving as the team’s advisor, said that the team is making strides with its robot, which can move right, left, front and back.


“We have been designing on notebooks, but we will be designing on CAD soon,” Pinkston said. “So they are actually able to put together a model of the robot inside CAD and see what it would do and they will be able to play with ideas before cutting.”

While the team is building its robot at Pender High School, students from across the county are invited to participate. Students do not need to have any experience with robotics to join the team.


Community mentors who are skilled in engineering, business, art, marketing and design also are needed to provide guidance.


“We are high school students diving into a sport, you could say, with no coach,” Cruz said. “Let’s see, I play soccer, and it’s like we don’t have a fitness coach, we don’t have a strategic coach, we don’t have a training coach. It’s just like, ‘Let’s go and do it.’ They would lead us and guide us.”


Pinkston said mentors are needed in all areas. 

“When people hear ‘robotics,’ they think ‘science’ and ‘engineering’ and they just block themselves out,” Pinkston said. “What they don’t realize is the skills they have exactly apply to what we are doing.”


This year’s competition game, “First Stronghold,” requires teams to build a robot that can retrieve and launch boulders into their opponent’s castle tower. In order to reach the tower, the robot must maneuver through various defenses, including rough terrain and a gate. Once the opponent’s defenses are weakened, the robots must scale the tower for additional points. 


Pender County Schools received $6,000 in grants to cover the entry fee for the competition and basic parts to build the robot, but more funds are needed to purchase additional materials and cover competition travel expenses.


Tax-deductible donations can be made by visiting www.ncfirstrobotics.org/donate/ and selecting “team sponsorship” in the fund designation field and entering 6214 in the “if team, which team” box.


The team will compete in its first competition March 11-13 at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School.


Follow Los Creadores on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the team’s progress.