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Madera High to head to state, US robotics contests after win

Madera High School’s engineering club, MadTown Robotics, will go to the Sacramento Regionals with a notch in its belt after winning the sixth annual Central Valley Regional Robotics Competition, and has qualified for the nationals in Houston.

The F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) competition, which ran over the weekend at Madera South High School, saw robots from 48 schools across California in a steampunk-themed contest, in which they had to fuel, install gears on, defend and board a “steam-powered airship.”

According to event judge Dan Riley, the event included NASA among its sponsors. In order to win, MadTown had to cooperate with two other clubs in an alliance — the Greybots team of Atascadero High School, and the Citrus Circuits club of Davis Senior High School and Da Vinci Charter Academy.

MadTown also received the Engineering Inspiration Award, which comes with a $5,000 paid entry for the National Competition in Houston in April.

For the Madera High team, this competition comes after months of intense labor, and long nights in the workshop to construct and program their robot. Construction began on the project in early January.

“Monday through Friday, we worked from 3 p.m. to 9-10 every night,” MadTown advisor R.C. Chahal said. “And then on Saturdays and Sundays, we do 11 a.m. to 11.”

According to MadTown Robotics chief of communication and outreach Grace Da Rocha, her team has the utmost confidence in their machine’s abilities.

“Our robot is very advanced,” said Da Rocha, a junior, “so we worked really hard on it, and I have faith that our team will go very far in this.”

“I think we have a really good design this year. It’s kind of impressive,” said MadTown member Joseph Reed. “This is my first year in robotics, but just seeing other robots in other years, I think this is a really complex but really effective design.”

Reed, a senior, plans to attend the University of Washington after graduation, and hopes to major in computer science.

The F.I.R.S.T. Robotics Sacramento Regional will be March 22-25 in the Pavilion at University of California, Davis.

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