Manor New Tech High School students still talking about Obama's visit


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and photojournalist CHRIS GARCIA

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Updated Friday, May 10 at 6:41 PM

MANOR, Texas -- The moment has passed, but the robotics class at Manor New Tech High School can't stop talking about who toured their school Thursday.

"It was mind blowing," said an enthusiastic Kelly Shelton.

"These look like some serious engineers here! What's your name sir," asked President Barack Obama as he met with students and teachers. 

"Unbelievable. In fact I'm still kind of wrapping my head around it," said Manor New Tech High School Technology and Fine Arts Teacher Bobby Garcia. 

"When he first walked in I could almost not speak, but it was just a wonderful experience," said Shelton, the team captain. "I was taken a back a little bit because the president held out his fist to me and I was like 'what are you doing?' He fist bumped me!"  

President Obama visited the school during his trip to Austin to promote technical innovation and education.

"There's a reason why teachers and principals from all over the country are coming down to see what you're up to. Because every day, this school is proving that every child has the potential to learn the real-world skills they need to succeed in college and beyond," Obama told students Thursday. 

And of course you can't tour a school and not see its varsity sporting team. At Manor New Tech, that's Team TEXplosion, the robotics team. Under the guidance of Garcia, the team has won competitions in Texas and competed in the world championship for the first time this year.

Team Driver Martin Portillo even gave the president a quick lesson in robotics with one of the team's YOLObots, short for "You Only Live Once."

"I was at a loss for words for a little bit. And as soon as he walked in I was like 'YOLO needs to work, YOLO needs to work.' He came in, it didn't work for the first five seconds and I was like 'wow, really?' But I kept trying to fix it. It got working," said Portillo.

The robot that the students showed Obama was their practice bot, YOLOtronica. The one they actually use to compete, YOLOtron, wasn't back from competition until Friday. Something the president joked with them about.

"He had actually joked about it and said 'what? You didn't tell them the president was coming? All I get's a practice robot? You can't do better than this?' And his charisma and his sense of humor really helped to ease a lot of the tension that was in the room because obviously we were very nervous, he is the most powerful man in the world," said Garcia. 

While a visit from the leader of the free world may be a stopping point for some, it is a catalyst for the students at Manor New Tech High School.

"It inspires us to try harder, to keep working, to keep doing what we do," said Portillo.

Hopefully inspiring their peers to do the same.