In a short amount of time, a small school in Grimes County is building a huge legacy with its robotics program.
UIL Robotics began as a pilot program during the 2015-2016 academic year. After three successful years as a pilot program, robotics is an official UIL competition starting with the 2018-2019 academic year. Iola has applied to UIL Robotics State Competition both years of the program’s short history.
The competition consists of building a robot, a marketing presentation, an engineering notebook, a marketing booth, and a spirit prize. Schools only have eight weeks to complete all components. The team attends a splash event the first weekend in September where they receive their kit to build a bot and figure out what problem they will need to accomplish in the events.
Iola, with 17 team members, competed at the North Houston Hub on November 5, finishing third out of 18 schools. Their final team qualification for the state meet in Frisco December 1-3. Out of 72 schools, Iola advanced to the semi-finals where they placed fifth overall.
“I like the idea of getting a problem and having to try to build something to fix it,” Cadence Shive said of why he joined the team. He said he enjoys the process of inventing.
Over the course of the year they became more of a team and they really bonded, said Grant Goodney. “At the beginning of last year it was people doing one thing at a time, but this year we’ve grown more as a team and we’ve done more things together.”
Team sponsor, Krisha Godney explained the concept of the team. “There are so many different requirements that they have to do, so last year I assigned things to each or two of the students. This year it was more of a group process.”
Being a successful team has its challenges. “Problem-solving has been a learning curve for me,” Kid Walton explained. “At the state competition, our bot broke a lot and we had to think on the go to fix it. We had to figure out how to solve the main problem we were having, and each team did it differently and we found our way around and it was successful.”
Brian Crosby is grateful that Eola is introducing the botnet. “I’ve always wanted to be an engineer and get into a good engineering school. So, having something like this where you’re introduced to a process of thinking and starting from scratch, where you have to design and engineer a project. That gives an opportunity that wasn’t there before to help me prepare for that future.” And entering colleges from that time and getting a good base in this field.”
The team also worked with Texas A&M engineering student Jaxton Kilpatrick as their mentor. Crosby said Jaxton helped the team with the way they handled problems. “He was asking the questions that needed to be asked to get us to think the right way.”
Teams use a range of skills to be competitive. Mary Womack was a huge factor in the high marketing scores that Iola received. “The goal of our marketing group was to sell the bot and explain to the participating judges all about our bot, our communication with the community, and our products.” Part of the marketing includes a basketball game to show distribution, Womack said.
Iola Robotics has sponsors helping fund the program including: Enel Green Power, Kay Partnership, and All Solar Texas.
Additional funding is being generated by the Iola Youth Summer Robotics Camp hosted by the team. Kids get the chance to learn about robotics, build robots, and compete in various competitions. The program is more than just a fundraiser, it builds interest in the younger generation.
For more information about Iola Robotics, email email@example.com.
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