John Agostinelli’s Robotics class has entered the FIRST Robotics Competition and will be participating in an event known as Ultimate Ascent.
In this competition teams divide into opposing alliances and duke it out inside a metal enclosure.
There are two towers on opposing sides of the enclosure, and teams score points by getting their respective robots to toss frisbees through goals; the more difficult the goal, the more points it is worth.
“The competition is scheduled for March 21 to 23 at U.C. Davis,” senior Justin Jeffrey said. “Schools from all over California will be there.”
“Each year is a little different. This year the goal is to get frisbees into goals and whoever has the most points wins the match.”
The full set of rules and requirements is available online.
The final event is aired on NASA television, and serves as a model of the things high school technology programs can achieve.
The Robotics class is already in the process of designing a robot.
The competition, also known as the Super Bowl of Nerddom, requires the brightest of high school students to engage in a death match of programming, design, and skill.
In order to emerge victorious, teams must successfully create a system that can complete a variety of tasks.
“You need to have a pretty fast learning curve,” junior Mike Castellano said.
“Everything builds upon everything else, and you got to keep up.”
Competing robots must throw frisbees into slots, scale metal towers, and even engage in battles with other team’s creations.
Rio’s team has until February 19 to finish their creation and be ready to battle.
In Robotics class, students learn to program computers, draft designs, and complete electrical circuits.
His students obtain skills needed in the modern workforce.
“Robotics is such a valuable class because kids learn basic engineering skills and end up being forced to work together in order to get things done,” Agostinelli explained.
The skills taught in vocational classes offer students practical knowledge that academia doesn’t.
“College is not for everyone. Kids who aren’t on that four-year university track need a place too.”
Justin Jeffery said that he has learned a lot of skills from Robotics and from this project in particular.
“It teaches you how to manage time,” Jeffery said. “It’s really fun. Like in woodshop and any industrial arts class, you learn skills as time goes on.”
Carpentry, construction, automotive engineering, and numerous other fields hold opportunities for high school graduates who do not want to pursue a college education.
Wyotech, and a host of other engineering and mechanical academies offer career pathways for those who want to enter the workforce with specialized knowledge rather than an academic degree.
“Most people don’t know that an electrical engineer, entering the workforce after a two year vocational program, can make up $90,000 a year as a starting salary” senior James Villanueva said.
Trade schools like Wyotech promise fast and focused training, and often partake in helping prospective employers obtain workers with the right skill sets.
“I want to be a mechanic for import cars,” junior Zach Paladini said.
“I think classes like robotics are the best way I can get prepared for that while still in high school.”
Robotics, as well as woodshop and other industrial arts programs, are indispensable because they provide a base of knowledge for those interested in engineering, craftsmanship, and mechanics.
“Classes like shop are really important and often overlooked,” senior Mark Lyon said.
“We need engineers and carpenters and metal-workers. Those are vital careers, we couldn’t function without them.”
“I think hands-on programs are really important at the high school level,” sophomore Cheo Vasquez said.
“I feel like we neglect the need to train and educate a vocational workforce.”