Two years ago, Arianna Massey was walking through the halls at Riverside University High School as a freshman and came across a classroom where a mini-robotics competition was happening. Although she had no previous experience, she was hooked.
“I liked the energy,” Massey said.
Now a junior, Massey is in her third consecutive FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics world championship.
Finding strength in smarts, the RoboTigers took first place in the regional competition in March, beating more than 50 other teams in the Midwest. This week, they are in Detroit for the world championship. The competition started Thursday and ends Saturday. It’s billed as the world’s largest STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) gathering.
The RoboTigers have been working toward this goal all semester, practicing 20 hours a week starting in January when they were given the game their robot would have to be able to play.
Erik Orlowski, a fifth-year UWM electrical engineering student, is a mentor for the team. He talked about the challenges the team has faced due to the economic makeup of the area. He and the team’s coach, Chris Levas, spend a lot of time getting the students to meetings and balancing their school life with robotics.