Students’ robots ‘disarm bombs’

Angel Vicente, robotics competitor, felt the pressure of building a robot since he missed many of the classes due to his appendicitis. He said “after my recovery, I came back and built my robot.”

Vicente managed to build and program his first robot all on his own, and took part in a Robotics Club competition on Saturday, May 4 at Cerritos College.

The Pathway Programs Department at Cerritos College hosted the competition where members of the Robotics Club competed against each other.

Joseph Powers Robotics Club adviser said, “This is all part of gearing these kids up to get into engineering and computer technology.”

Carla York, program facilitator for the Pathway Programs Department said, “(The department) received a grant from Southern California Edison. With that grant funding (the department was) able to create a year long Robotics Club for the students.

“All the students that competed today have been working on their robots since October.” York said.

The competition had three judges including York.

According to York, judges were looking for the time it took the robot to finish the competition and whether or not any parts fell off of the robot.

The students built robots that had to navigate a small course which consisted of 10 turns marked by nine water bottles each with a ball on top. Hitting a water bottle and knocking a ball down resulted in the loss of one point.

York also said that the participants came from local school districts and some even came from Orange County.

Maggie Cordero, director of the Pathway Programs at Cerritos College, mentioned that “(The department) likes to have the competitions because it teaches (students) how to work under pressure. They are timed and if something goes wrong they have to work as a team so it teaches them real life skills that they will eventually use in the workplace.”

Vicente managed to build and program his first robot all on his own.

Julio Juarez, robotics competitor, was the programmer for his robot. Juarez wrote 62 lines of code to program his robots basic movements. He said “It is trial and error. If we mess up we have to go back and re-program the robot.”

Outside of the program, Juarez is using his programming skills to run Minecraft servers and build websites. He is currently building a social media website.

He expects his social media site to be up and running by October. Juarez adds that “I just want to build something that can connect people even more.”

A part from finishing in second, Juarez was part of the only team to attempt the special challenge in the competition. The students in the competition had the option of trying to disarm a “bomb” by picking up and placing a plastic ring on a small cone.

Julio Guzman, pathway program robotics instructor his students last year, “I need a working machine that could do specific tasks.” These tasks include such things as disarming a “bomb”.

According to Guzman, students are expected to build robots that can finish a course with and without the use of remote control. The Robotics Club students are currently programming their robots to finish a course fully autonomously.

Guzman wants his students to design robots that could function in real world situations.

He said “I want to create a scenario where these kids build a robot with a camera for urban rescue where they only use a monitor to maneuver and do specific tasks.”