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Tehachapi High School Robotics Challenge continues


Larry LaCom

Students Adam Hansen, Hunter Nadon and Julian Romero installing components on a robot platform.

These high school students are busy!

Tehachapi High School's robotics team is one of only 30 schools out of over 3,000 nationwide that is certified as a beta test center for new software rollouts in the FirstTeam robotics program. In preparation for next year's challenge, the Tehachapi High School robotics team is working out the necessary programming changes after an upgrade to the software that controls the robots. Once they work out all the bugs and beta test results are in, they will be ready for the 2018 challenge, which will be revealed on Jan. 6. That will be a very busy time for the team.

The 2018 challenge details are kept secret until being revealed to all teams across the country on Jan. 6. Nobody knows what their robots will need to do in the competition – so no design or planning can be done until that date.

Then the rush will be on. They will have to figure out all the details of the challenge, plan a strategy that will involve unknown teams from across the country they will be paired up with randomly at the regional events, design and create their prototypes, test them, and build a final robot – ready to compete on February 20. Talk about a challenge!

In the meantime, they are busy testing different drive configurations to find the optimum balance between speed, power and maneuverability, and debugging and beta-testing the software that operates the robots.

For these technically-inclined students, this means 6 weeks of working intensively as a team to take home the prize, while sharpening their academic and practical skills. Teacher and team mentor Len Evansic says they want to see as many students as possible become equipped to succeed in the intellectual-property-based economy that is becoming more predominant. Students will not only need college degrees, but skills and experience that they can acquire by participation in the FirstTeam program.

They are aided by the acquisition of some advanced equipment. HP, in partnership with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), have donated an HP Sprout Pro computer capable of doing 3D scanning and modeling, which students then print on their 3D printer for rapid prototyping. That way they can design and test their designs much more quickly than if they had to do it manually.

Larry LaCom

Mentor and alumnus Blake Olson works with the robotics program's HP Sprout Pro computer.

"This would have been really nice last year," says team mentor Blake Olson, who graduated THS and is now attending Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, and is aiding the team during his winter break.

HP and FIRST are looking at how the different teams across the nation are able to use their systems in designing and building robots. The THS team is using a cloud-based 3D modeling system called OnShape to facilitate faster collaboration between the different design team members.

This team is in need of volunteer mentors, and not just those with engineering or robotics skills. They also need people with skills in presentation, business and marketing – anything to help this team of students present their project in the most favorable way in order to win the prize at the national competition.

If you're interested in offering your mentorship help, contact program coordinator Danielle Evansic at, or go to


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