Dunsmuir High robotics team gained experience at Nationals

Steve Gerace
The Dunsmuir High School robotics team with their robot at the National championships in April in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Left to right, teacher Kurt Champe, Stephen Duarte, Madison Champe and Kaitlyn Edwards. Submitted

Dunsmuir High School students learned a lot during their three days of robotics competition at the Nationals in Council Bluffs, Iowa, last month.

They qualified for Nationals by winning a state competition in November.

Teacher Kurt Champe said the Nationals included divisions for high schools and middle schools and an open division that drew competitors from all over the world.

“It was amazing,” Champe said of the learning experience for DHS team members Stephen Duarte, Kaitlyn Edwards and Madison Champe.

He said DHS was in 24th place among 184 high school teams at one point in the competition, but then ran into some trouble with their robot.

Limitations with their plane luggage left the DHS students short on parts for their one robot, and they ended up having to borrow parts and wire.

By rule, the robot had to fit into an 18 by 18 by 18 inch box, although it can expand to a larger size for the competition.

For the skills challenge, an autonomous program is downloaded into the robot along with a driver control program.

Points are scored by using the robot to stack cones on top of each other in scoring zones with different point values.

There are both driver controlled and autonomous periods. Points can also be scored for parking the robot at the end of the competition.

Ten qualifying matches were held with two teams competing together against two other teams. Based on their scores from that, teams were put into a tournament bracket.

A party on the second day of Nationals included a bounce house and guest speakers.

For their costume, the DHS robotics team wore Tiger football jerseys.

Champe said highlights from the trip for DHS students included visiting the robotics program at University of Nebraska Omaha.

Dunsmuir’s robotics team was amazed to see how some of the robots that fit into the 18 by 18 by 18 box could expand to be up to 6 feet tall – well beyond the DHS robot’s expansion to 28 inches.

Each year DHS students build a new robot and face a new competition challenge. They scrimmage with other north state high schools including Foothill, Anderson, and Fall River.

Champe said Shasta High School in Redding has the top program for robotics in the area, and it was a teacher there that got him started.

He said DHS’s robotics goals for the future include getting more students involved, forming a league with other area schools, and making it to the Worlds competition.