May 25, 2007

Sweetwater’s Bots Rock the Competition

The task was daunting – design, build and program a microcontroller-controlled robot that could climb slopes, track lines, avoid obstacles and identify and handle colored objects. But meeting challenges has never been a problem for three female engineering students who make up Southwest High School’s robotics team. Working together, the team took third place overall, first at the district level, in the “RoboRocks Robotics Competition” at San Diego City College.

The young women’s top three finish marks the third time a district team has been honored at a countywide robotics competition this year. Earlier, Eastlake High won the Southern California “Botball” Robotics Tournament, while Hilltop High’s Robotics Team took home the Rookie Inspiration Award at the San Diego Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.


Winning Robot: Southwest team captain Natalie Alvarez poses with her school’s robot.

The competition at City College was part of the school’s 3rd Annual Student Project and Research Symposium. Nine female teams participated in the robotics event hosted by the college’s Manufacturing Engineering Technology Department. Southwest High’s participants were Natalia Alvarez, Araceli Diaz and Camile Paras with assistance from coach and teacher Dr. Hector Arias.

“Our students have embraced the chance to compete in these contests and showcase their knowledge of robotics and engineering,” said Southwest High School Principal Sid Salazar.

“All the Southwest High students worked intensively for one month,” said Arias. “They worked many days after school and two weekends before the competition.”

The work and effort increased as the date of the competition drew closer. Arias said one of the students workd well into the evening a few days before the event and only stopped working because the custodians had to close the school.

This type of effort from district students continued at the recent “California Project Lead The Way Scale-Model Bridge Competition 2007.” Southwest students Derrick Bender, Dwayne Codding, Natalia Alvarez and Marc Pouvave swept the top three spots in the “Wood Category” with Bender/Codding and Alvarez taking home second and third place awards in the “All Categories” contests.

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