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TSTC Hosts Third Annual RGV BEST Robotics Competition

Saturday, October 26, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

RoboA strange sense of déjà vu came over the Early College High School robotics team when their robot broke down during the semifinals of the Robotic Performance event at the Third Annual RGV BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) competition on Saturday at the Texas State Technical College Wellness and Sports Center.

In 2012, a battery issue forced ECHS to drop out of the Robotic Performance costing them the overall title, or the BEST Award.

This year, ECHS tallied enough points in the other nine categories to win the coveted top title and move on to the BEST National competition in Dallas on Nov. 8-9. Harlingen South and Weslaco High will be joining ECHS in Dallas.

“We thought we were done,” ECHS senior Samuel Saenz said. “When they called our name, it came as such a surprise…I can’t even begin to explain how we all feel right now. This is huge.”

This year’s students built robots that were designed to lift pegs, hangers and blocks and fit into flitted spots.

Weslaco High School took second place and Harlingen Home Schoolers were third in the RGV BEST final count.

ECHS also took first place in Best Team Exhibit & Interview and Best Spirit & Sportsmanship. The Owls also took a third place spot in Best Project Engineering Notebook.

“Our best bet to win it all was the last couple of years,” ECHS senior Zach McNutt said. “We came through in the other categories this year to pull this off.”

ECHS physics teacher and team co-sponsor Joe Rigdon said they have one of the biggest robotics teams around and said the team’s dedication to robotics is second to none. Biology teacher Jorge Garcia is the other sponsor.

Sixty students or 20 percent of the small high school adjacent to TSTC make up this year’s team. Rigdon said team members worked tirelessly after school and on weekends to put together the overall winning effort.

“Most of the students at our school are looking for jobs in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) or marketing and business when they graduate,” Rigdon said. “These competitions teach them about the real world and how to design, build and market something like a robot.”

Marketing the robot is a big part of the day-long competition and sophomore Nicholas Payne said the hard work was well worth it in the end.

“Everyone did their part to make sure this robot was the best possible,” Payne said.

This is the third year that TSTC hosts the prestigious competition to become the only BEST robotics site south of San Antonio. Of the 16 teams competing, three came from the Corpus Christi area and one from Laredo.

Competition coordinator Adan Trevino said this educational event grows in size and popularity every year.

“We added six teams this year and we’re now reaching outside of the Valley,” Trevino said. “This was a complete team effort from TSTC to pull this off successfully once again.”

Other winners included Harlingen South in the Robotic Performance category. The Harlingen Home Schoolers took first place in Best Project Engineering Notebook and Harlingen High took first in Best Marketing Presentation.

Harlingen South won Most Robust and Most Elegant Robot with a perfect score in each category. Corpus Christi Moody won the Founder’s Award for Creative Design and Collegiate High School won best T-Shirt Design.


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