Robotics teams square off in Austin


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News & Photojournalist J. P. HARRINGTON

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on July 27, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 27 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Five hundred high school students gathered at Anderson High School on Saturday for a robotics competition called the Texas Robot Round-Up!

The summer competition is for young engineers and technology enthusiasts. Forty high school robotics teams from Texas, one team from Hawaii and one from Mississippi brought in their best bots for the third annual tournament.

"In the summer time, teams kind of start disbanding a little bit, but this is a time for them to come back and play one more time together", said Patrick Felty, Regional Director of F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

Because it's a summer tournament, teams don't have to qualify for the championship, but that doesn't mean the competition isn't steep. Reigning world champions "Texas Torque" from the Woodlands entered their winning bot.

Team member Shyam Raghavan said "It takes a lot of teamwork and it takes a lot of people working together to, you know, achieve a goal like this. It's a big undertaking and it takes a lot of work."

Putting in work is something the Anderson High School team, called the "ausTIN CANs", knows all about. They designed and built their robot in just five weeks and finished construction Saturday morning.

Moritz Freid is a member of ausTIN CANs robotic team. He said "For the summer competition we decided to make a new robot because the robot we made originally didn't do exactly what we wanted it to do. And we wanted to have a robot that was more competitive."

This year, robots have to shoot frisbees at a target and be able to climb up a tower. Felty added "These are the big robots. These are the robots that have a footprint of a coffee table, 120 pounds, they can get up to 5 feet tall." And they have some pretty creative names, like "Charlie Brown's ugly sweater", "torque-osaurus", "gallus" (the latin word for chicken), and the "flying spaghetti monster."

Cool names and fun games aside, this competition really focuses on giving students the edge they need in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Parent Ed Tovar said "All the universities are always complaining that we don't have enough students that are going into engineering, here they are."Felty added "These are the ones that are going to invent something great, be our future teachers, our future leaders."