Huge crowds, fierce competition for Robotics Competition

High Schools across country compete for coveted title


SAN ANTONIO – Crowds are large and competition fierce at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center as the 3rd Annual Alamo FIRST Robotics Championship is underway.

The competition began Friday morning with 3,000 participants making up teams from across the country and Mexico. 

One of those teams was the Grease Monkeys from South San High School.

"Last year, we actually won this competition," said a confident Justin Chapko, a member of the Grease Monkeys.

It was domination for the team from South San High School, at least in the early rounds. 

This year's competition calls for the team's robots to be able to shoot Frisbees towards a target, as they battle against other robots in an arena. 

Robots are also tasked with climbing a tower, as students control the machines using joysticks and computers behind a Plexiglas wall.

The expensive machines are built with great care and expense, and can complete amazing feats.

Cross-town rivals the Bronc Botz from Brandeis High School also had a good showing. After the first round, they spent time tweaking their impressive machine in the competition's "pit row."

"We just tested the robot, so we're just trying to clean up the wiring a bit," said Morgan Garbett, with the Bronc Botz.

In the end, it's more than just a competition for these young, brilliant minds.

"It gives them an outlet. It teaches them things they're probably not going to learn in school. They're competing, they're working together," said Patrick Felty, regional director for FIRST in South and Central Texas.

That idea was perhaps best illustrated this week, when the robot of a rookie team from Mexico was hi-jacked en-route to the competition. With only three days to build a new robot, other teams pitched in to help them.

"Everybody is really, really helpful," said Guillermo Palacios, mentor of the team. "We are really blessed in this way, because we have the support of the entire FIRST community."

The event continues Saturday and is open and free to the public.

A slideshow is embedded here.

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