By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald
For a few science-minded teens, the thrill and challenge of designing and programming robots doesn’t end in the summertime.
The Shoemaker High School Cyberwolves robotics team, including some eager freshmen-to-be, earned a semifinals birth and third-place finish in an off-season FIRST Robotics event.
Robotics team members said they were proud to finish well despite unexpected mechanical challenges.
The Texas Round-Up, held July 29-30 in Austin, gave robotics teams a chance to work on their skills in the off season, using robots built last spring for competition in FIRST, which is For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
During the early rounds, the Cyberwolves proved their robot was quick and that their drive team was able to fend off competitors.
The team soared from 24th place to third place when a top alliance chose the Shoemaker team to join their group.
The large mobile robots used a mechanical claw to pick up inner tube shapes that made up the FIRST logo. The challenge also involved releasing miniature robots to climb a pole.
“It was really exciting,” said Wesley Tavares, a sophomore who said the summer event was his first chance to work in a pit crew without upperclassman guidance.
“I’m proud we did well even though the robot was broken,” said freshman Catlain Melendez. She said a robotic arm popped off unexpectedly, but that the team still managed to meet challenges to score points.
Team members said the experience allowed them to work together as a team under pressure situations.
“We learned teamwork,” Melendez said. “Yelling won’t work.”
Tavares learned the robotics ropes last school year as a freshman. He said he was excited to share his experience with incoming freshmen.
The Cyberwolves plan to continue their visible presence at Shoemaker High School. Members hope to modify their competition robot into a T-shirt launcher for use in pep rallies and football games.
Sandra Melendez, the Cyberwolves coach and coordinator for the STEM Academy at Shoemaker, said the team is in strong shape following the summer competition.
This year’s summer FIRST tournament in Austin was an inaugural event for Texas.
Two years ago, the Cyberwolves earned a trip to the national FIRST competition in Atlanta. Last year, the team won several honors at regional event, but missed qualifying for nationals.
“We are going to be a force this year,” the confident coach declared.