MVHS robotics team advances to nationals

Courtesy of Wyn Schuh
The Mountain View High School Spartan Robotics team placed second at the FIRST Robotics San Francisco Regional last month.

Mountain View High School’s robotics team is on a roll.

Spartan Robotics placed second at the FIRST Robotics San Francisco Regional last month and received two awards at the Silicon Valley Regional earlier this month. The team, which has grown to 50 students this year, is headed to Houston this week for the world championships.

“It has been exciting to see so many students engaged in the different aspects of robot design, prototyping, programming and testing,” said the team’s longtime mentor, Wyn Schuh. “We have a great group of dedicated students who are proud of what they’ve made.”

Schuh added that team members have worked hard to master their robot-building skills.

“One thing that is part of our team culture is that anyone who is willing to learn and work hard can become a significant contributor on the team, regardless of his or her age or time on the team,” she said. “There is a team of freshmen who have been proficient in running our CNC (computer numerical control) router to make parts for the robot.”

Competition organizer FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) this year challenged teams across the nation to build a robot that will transport gear across a field, shoot whiffle balls and climb a rope in this year’s Steamworks game. Teams competed at district and regional competitions, many of them forming alliances in an effort to advance to nationals.

At the April 1 Silicon Valley Regional competition, Spartan Robotics won the Chairman’s Award for the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. Schuh received the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award that recognizes mentors who “lead, inspire and empower” their students. Schuh said she was “honored and humbled” to be nominated.

She also noted that Spartan Robotics members take pride in the fact that they not only focus on building great robots, but they also work to share knowledge and spread enthusiasm to other teams to help them grow and improve.

The Mountain View team has 22 mentors, many of whom are college students who have returned to their alma mater as advisers, along with several corporate and machining sponsors, including NASA Ames Research Center, Google Inc. and the St. Jude Medical Foundation. Without the help of mentors and sponsors, the team never would have made it this far, Schuh said.

Spartan Robotics is scheduled to compete in the national championships today through Saturday in Houston. More than 40 countries are slated to participate.

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