FISHERSVILLE — A group of future engineers from the Shenandoah Valley Governor's School have been preparing for a rigorous competition in Richmond starting today.
The 11 juniors and seniors have spent the past couple of months assembling a robot from basic components for the First Robotics Competition.
While First Robotics provides the parts, the students had to work with their coach on the design and assembling of the robot, said Caitlin Corbeil, the team's coach and a mechanical engineer at Staunton's Cadence Inc.
"This really opens up the eyes of a mainstream high school student to science and technology,'' said Corbeil, who was a First Robotics competitor while attending high school in New England.
The robot put together by the Governor's School team will compete this weekend against others from about 60 Virginia teams at Virginia Commonwealth University's Siegel Center. The robot must be commanded to accurately throw a Frisbee at targets and climb a 90-foot structure, Corbeil said.
Corbeil said the crafting of the designed parts for the robot was done by machine technology teacher Gary Cline and his students at Valley Vocational-Technical Center.
Tanner Rase, one of the First Robotics team members from the Governor's School and Waynesboro High, said one of the toughest tasks "was getting all the pieces'' of the robot to fit.
Andy Vollmer, another Governor's School team member from Wilson Memorial High, said the team often found the pieces "a half-inch too big or too small."
The Governor's School team is excited about this weekend's competition. So is their coach.
"This builds their confidence,'' Corbeil said. "This will be the first time they will have an engineering-like minded experience."
She describes the First Robotics event as similar to a major sporting event.
"It takes place in an arena, and there are lights and music," she said. "It is a high-spirited event. The kids get motivated."
Corbeil said the Governor's School team plans to put together a business plan to obtain sponsorships from local companies for future competitions.
She said the students met once a week during the fall before building the robot and three times a week during building season.