Gears Turning, Rotors Spinning in Madera
On March 12, the robot named ETR 13 would go on to win the Central Valley Regional held at Madera South. This win granted the Madera High Robotics team a spot in this year’s World Championship held in Houston, Texas.
Over the years FIRST Team 1323, MadTown Robotics, has transformed from a novice group of students, to a world-class team with the capabilities of winning World Championships.
“Every aspect in robotics is crucial, down to the programming… if there is something incorrectly written, even just a comma, everything will fail, in regards with the robot’s operation ”, said Isaac Duarte, a lead programmer for MadTown Robotics. Duarte has been on the team for over 2 years now, and he and his fellow programmers constantly stress for the success with the operation of their code.
Recently, MadTown Robotics has opened itself to allow anyone in a MUSD high school to join the team. Before, the team only allowed students from MHS to enter. Now, the team consists of approximately 37 students from Madera High School and one from Sherman Thomas.
With this expansion, the team has also gained increased funding from the district. According to Ranjit Chahal, adviser for the team, in this year alone, MadTown Robotics has received about $54,000 in funding from the Madera Unified School District . “The team must accumulate about $100,000 a year to maintain itself and provide for students who devote their entire afternoons, weekends, and breaks to working on the robot or keeping the shop up,” says Gary Chahal, a team alumni and mentor.
The team raises the rest of this money through sponsorships and grants from local businesses such as GBS Hardware and Vulcan Materials. The team also receives about $30,000 from big companies like PG&E, JBT FoodTech, and Boeing. Many local restaurants also support the team by donating food. This past year alone, Maria’s Taco Shop and Round Table Pizza donated meals to every student on team at least once a week.
This past 2017 season, MadTown Robotics made an astonishing achievement winning the Central Valley Regional and receiving the Engineering Inspiration award for their community involvement, then continuing on, two weeks later, to compete at the Sacramento Regional at UC Davis, reaching the Semi-finals. The team also competed at the World Championship where they reached the finals of their division, only to be taken out by a piece of tape from the game field that got stuck in one of the robots mechanisms.
“It really sucks to have worked countless hours on this robot and to have something like a piece of tape stop us,” John Akana, driver of the robot, said. “We’ll be back next year, ready to take on whatever comes at us.”