One year after the total loss of their computer and robotics lab, the San Luis Obispo High School Robotics Club, known as SLO-Botics, is set to sponsor the VEX Robotics Competition at Cal Poly for the tenth year in a row. Set for January 27, this family-friendly free event draws 48 teams of high school students from across California to compete head-to-head in a competition that involves technical design, computer coding, skillful driving, teamwork, and strategy.
While last year’s fire completely demolished the club’s existing robots just before the Cal Poly competition, an outpouring of community support and donations made by community members, local businesses, and former students made it possible for the team to quickly build new robots to compete in last year’s event.
“What started out as a horrific loss really turned into an amazing community builder. It just goes to show the resiliency of our students and the generosity found in our special community,” said the club’s coach and Computer Science teacher Jan Fetcho.
SLO-Botics students competing this year are excited to show their supporters how they’ve bounced back and are winning competitions. In fact, just last month, one of the SLO-Botics robots won the VEX Robotics Competition held at Google headquarters in Mountain View. This win qualifies them to attend both the California State Championship in Bakersfield in March, and the CREATE National Championship in Iowa this April.
Community members are encouraged to attend to cheer on their local robotics teams and to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math at large.
“It’s a great learning experience for our future engineers, electricians, and roboticists. There will be a great new setup with a better display, as well as food,” said SLO-Botics team member freshman Bryce North.
Students competing in the program, such as North, have prepared for the showdown by using VEX Robotics tools to build and program a robot that fits within fixed parameters, with the challenge of moving sets of cones arranged within an arena. North stated that the team’s biggest competition is the Revolt robot, whose team won the World Championship last year.
This year’s game is entitled “In the Zone” and has a strict set of rules for scoring during competition. Each team has worked countless hours to build a robot that is able to maneuver around the 12×12 foot field to pick up and move cones to scoring areas. Competitors will also have an opportunity to demonstrate their coding ability through an autonomous drive portion of the competition.
Matches begin Saturday, January 27, at 9:30 a.m. and finals start around 3:30 p.m. that afternoon. All events are held at the ATL and Bonderson buildings on the Cal Poly campus.
Find out more by emailing Ms. Fetcho at JFetcho@SLCUSD.org or Stephanie Hunting at Stephanie.Hunting@gmail.com.