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Local Robotics Team Heads to Houston for World Championships

One scrappy team who helped set a world record score is determined to be there on a world stage after 23 years of attempts

Published on Monday, April 15, 2024 | 12:58 pm

Thousands of future scientists, inventors, and NASA engineers are headed to Houston this week to compete in the world championships of robotics. More than 600 teams of high school students will be there hoping to win with their original robot design. The international gathering of screaming science fans will suffer the agony of defeat, the thrill of victory and be inspired by competitors and, when the matches are over, even attend a robo prom.

For one local team, the trip is a major milestone because it is the first time they’ve qualified since their founding 23 years ago.

The small yet mighty San Marino High School Titanium Robotics team is wildly excited to make this trip and experience this global robotics happening. More than 40 kids, mentors, teachers, and parents are buzzing with anticipation as the entire community pulls together to make this once-in-a-lifetime dream a reality.

“This is really a spectacular opportunity for our students to have the chance to participate on a global stage,” said Scott Barton, faculty advisor, San Marino High School Titanium Robotics team. “It is very gratifying to see all their hard work and dedication recognized at this level. I’m proud of them.”

One mentor poignantly reminded the kids that this moment is historic and said that this team going to the Worlds represents everyone who came before them since 2001 when the team began building robots.

San Marino is one of a dozen schools in Southern California heading to Houston. Teams from Israel, Turkey, Canada, Brazil, and others will also compete at the Houston Convention Center.
The event is organized by For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Staff from Jet Propulsion Laboratories and other high profile businesses will be there as mentors and to promote STEAM careers. Elementary and middle school teams will also participate in the FIRST events in Houston.

Kids on the Titanium Robotics club team are from 14 to 18 years old and are fully committed to the robo phenomenon. They spend endless hours building, designing, and programming the robot on top of their regular school work. The team’s co-presidents manage engineering and business. The business teammates create marketing campaigns, design an annual report and write grants to generate support and awareness of the robotics team.

A Boeing Company employee has volunteered to drive a truck with the robot and all the gear 1,500 miles to the competition. A dedicated booster of the team for many years, Bob French is the parent of San Marino high school alumni who, ironically, didn’t participate in the robo team while they were students. French is one of the team’s most loyal fans and says he wouldn’t miss this moment for anything.

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