Llano Estacado First Robotics Team Builds a 120lb. Robot

The award-winning robotics team is on week three of a six-week build season before the Hub City Regional competition March 7-8, 2014 in Lubbock.

The Llano Estacado RoboRaiders are building a highly-skilled 120-pound robot that is planned to beat out teams from around the world at the Hub City Regional competition to be held March 7-8, 2014 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Practice rounds begin on Thursday, March 6 and visitors are welcome.

The RoboRaiders, also known at Team 1817, was given a kit of parts (with no instructions) and a challenge to meet on January 4th, the beginning of a six-week time frame in which they have to build a robot able to pass, shoot and catch a two-foot yoga ball. The team consists of 23 mentors, who are volunteers from Texas Tech University, and 29 students in grades 7-12.

The challenge this year pairs three robots against three robots in an alliance on a playing field that is 54' x 25'. The purpose is to pass the ball from one robot to the next and get it in one of the two goals (one high and one low). Extra points can be earned for working together to pass the ball, getting the ball over a center truss or catching the ball.
"I've never seen this level of cooperation required in a FIRST Robotics game before," said Dr. Richard Gale, the team's professional advisor, as well as Professor and Associate Chair of Graduate Studies at Texas Tech University, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "This will require a high level of communication between teams on an alliance, and offers unique opportunities for customizing the individual robots."

Students are challenged to develop strong teamwork skills and design a team identity, as well as build and program their robot. It is incredibly close to real world engineering and is a great opportunity for students desiring to major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"This team is unique," stated George Tan, Team Leader and a student in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics. "We have students on Team 1817 from schools all over the Lubbock area, including home school kids.

And unlike teams that are sponsored solely by a corporation, we are sponsored by Texas Tech, as well as a diverse group of corporate partners in the Lubbock area.

The mentors are students themselves, allowing us to both build friendships with these amazing students and encourage to reach for their best." Tan was the team leader during the 2012-13 season and then was called up to go to Afghanistan with the Texas Army National Guard. He has now returned and has gone right back to work with the team.

Jeffrey Cordero, a 17-year-old junior at Trinity Christian School, is a member of the team this year. "This is my first time being on a robotics team," Jeffrey stated. "It's been awesome. I've improved my skills using AutoCad software and I've learned so much about mechanical engineering that I'm thinking of studying it in college."

The final day for all FIRST Robotics Competition teams around the word to stop building their robot is February 18, 2014. Then competitions begin, culminating with a world's level championship to be held in St. Louis, Missouri this coming April. The first regional-level competition for Team 1817 is to be in Lubbock. Teams are scheduled to come from around the world, including Australia, China and Mexico.

About FIRST Robotics:
FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is a unique varsity sport of the mind designed to help teen-aged young people discover how interesting and rewarding the life of engineers and researchers can be.

The FIRST Robotics Competition challenges teams of young people and their mentors to solve a common problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard "kit of parts" and a common set of rules. Teams build robots from the parts and enter them in competitions designed by professionals. FIRST redefines winning for these students because they are rewarded for excellence in design, demonstrated team spirit, gracious professionalism and maturity, and the ability to overcome obstacles. Scoring the most points is a secondary goal. Winning means building partnerships that last.

About The Llano Estacado RoboRaiders FIRST Team 1817:
Since 2006, the award-winning Llano Estacado RoboRaiders (FRC Team 1817), a competitive robotics team, has offered pre-college students in the Lubbock area the chance to work side by side with Texas Tech University engineering students, faculty and community members to design and build a 120-pound finely tuned metal machine. While the design and construction of this robot takes place over a short six-week period in the spring, the RoboRaiders provide services and opportunities year-round to students of all ages in our community.

This team is a "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology" (FIRST) robotics team. FIRST is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization reaching more than 37,000 students. FIRST was founded by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen, and the program and its participating teams are sponsored by companies such as NASA, National Instruments, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, DARPA and over 1000 others.
Student who participate on the team are given opportunities to develop skills they would not typically learn in traditional classrooms. In addition to mechanical, electrical, pneumatic, manufacturing and design, students learn valuable life skills. Working on diverse interdisciplinary teams helps develop self-confidence, teamwork, personal responsibility, community involvement and the value of initiative and dedication. FIRST students gain more than "book smarts"; participants are real-world performers.

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