Steam Power Theme Revealed In Robotics Competition

By Lauren Caruba
San Antonio Express-News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This article follows the exciting first steps for the robotics team at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy. The all-girls school will compete alongside 85,000 students in the FIRST Robotics international competition.

San Antonio Express-News

Standing before a large whiteboard, Alexus Arizola sketched a rendering of the competition arena and a list of rules with a red dry-erase marker.

After rewatching a video detailing the complex robot she and her classmates would build and refine over the next few months, Arizola took charge, brandishing a handful of pages from a design manual.

Earlier on Saturday morning, the junior at Young Women’s Leadership Academy and her classmates gathered with around 400 students and mentors from 22 other schools at Villita Assembly Building, where a live stream revealed the theme and challenge for the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition.

It will be the second time that the all-girls school will compete alongside 85,000 students in the international robotics competition, For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology.

This year’s theme, FIRST Steamworks, sets the competition in the steam power era and challenges students to equip an airship for takeoff. The goal is to build a robotic device that can leverage hollow plastic balls — representing fuel — into a boiler and install gears on a rotor. The robots will be programmed to operate on their own for 15 seconds, after which students will control them remotely.

“I think it’s going to be a challenge,” said Arizola, 16. “Last year was difficult because we were a rookie team with no experience.”

In Texas, the competition is as tough as ever, with the number of regional events in the state expanded from four to six.

This year, Waco will host a regional and Houston will host two, alongside San Antonio, Dallas and Lubbock.

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