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Robotics team tackles space-themed challenge

Boulder City High School’s High Scalers robotics team is heading to the FIRST Robotics Las Vegas Regional competition Friday and Saturday, March 29-30, at the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The competition is open to the public; admission is free.

Destination: Deep Space is the theme of this year’s competition. It requires students to attach hatch panels on a rocket and cargo ships, load cargo and return to their habitats. As they work to accomplish their tasks, they must battle adversities including “sand storms,” a curtain that blocks the drivers’ vision of the playing field.

This year’s robotics team features four students, senior Nolan Burke, who acts as their coach keeping watch on all action on the playing field; senior Cooper Cummings and junior Erin Reed, who serve as their drivers; and Jamison Kaboli, who serves as their human player who can obtain extra cargo and hatch panels.

They will compete as part of a three-team alliance, which will be selected at the competition, according to Garth Shultz, the robotics teacher at BCHS and the club’s adviser.

The teams are ranked, he said, and rankings are gained by performing tasks so they concentrate on the tasks that earn the most points.

“We are especially good at cargo loading,” Shultz said, adding that skill prompted the fifth-ranked team to select them for an alliance at the Arizona North Regional at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, held March 14-16.

The High Scalers were ranked 37th of 53 teams participating at the event.

The competition allowed them to fine-tune their weaknesses, working on the spot in a 10-foot-by-10-foot space using what they could find in their tool box and parts kit or borrow from fellow competitors.

“That’s part of the fun,” Cummings said. “That’s what it’s all about: problem solving.”

A national presentation in January revealed this year’s theme and tasks, kicking off a six-week build season to prepare for the first round of competition.

Kaboli said they spent about 25 hours a week building and perfecting their robot.

He said he joined the team because he is science- and math-oriented and hopes to pursue a career in engineering.

“I can learn what a real engineer does and all the programs they use,” Kaboli said, quickly adding “It’s something I’m passionate about and it’s fun to me — that’s another perk.”

Shultz and John Richner, who serves as an adviser with Dave Traver, said participating in the extracurricular team is beneficial for the students’ lives after high school. Inside the classroom is a poster that recognizes team alumni who used their experiences to excel in college and their professions.

It costs $5,000 to participate in the first competition, which includes a $1,000 base kit for their robot. All other competitions have a $4,000 entry fee.

The team estimates they spent around $3,000 to build this year’s robot.

All of their fees and equipment costs, with the majority of their travel expenses, are paid for through sponsorships and donations.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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