Garland ISD robotics teams qualify for world championships

(Front row, from left) Tien Tran and Evan Anderson; (middle row) Justin Matthews, Ruben Rodriguez, and Dylan Pacetti; (back row) Corey Bankston. Photo courtesy of Cyndi Matthews.

(GARLAND ISD – December 10, 2012) Garland ISD’s robotics program is going global, with representation at the 2013 VEX Robotics World Championships. More than 600 of the best middle and high school teams from 15 countries will face off next April in California, including two from GISD—both products of Austin Academy for Excellence.

Qualifying to compete on the world stage at the Dec. 1 Greenville VEX Sack Attack Tournament, teams from Garland High School and Austin Academy formed an alliance to beat more than 50 other competitors, walking away as tournament champions.

“In my 15 years of teaching, it was my best day ever,” said Corey Bankston, robotics teacher at Austin. “Garland High School’s team was made up of former students that competed for Austin last year. To have my past and present teams aligned together to win was nothing but elation for me.”

VEX’s “Sack Attack” challenge is new for 2012-13. It pits teams against one another to see whose robot can lift the most bean bags into elevated goals in two minutes. Competitors build and race their own creations with guidance from instructors or advisors.

Austin’s winning team, number 7504E, consists of four first-year competitors—Elan Tome, Evan Anderson, Jevin James, and Tien Tran.

“I really didn’t expect to win, much less get to the finals,” said seventh grader Tran. “I feel lucky to win my first event. All the hard work we put into this robot has paid off.”

But team 7504E’s work is not done.

“We plan on modifying our design and assessing our errors in the tournament and making the necessary improvements,” commented seventh grade teammate Anderson.

Austin’s fateful four must now also begin raising money for their trip to California this spring. There they’ll be joined by Garland High School’s team 3795A, made up of GHS freshman Justin Matthews and Dylan Pacetti and Lakeview Centennial HS freshman Ruben Rodriguez.

Win or lose, Bankston says he’s more focused on the life skills his students will gain from the experience.

“Robotics gives them an opportunity to develop skills like problem solving, time management, and thinking outside the box. Their win is a tribute to hard work. It is proof of all of the extra time and energy we and our sponsors have devoted to the district’s robotics program.”

Garland High School’s team 3795A won its second tournament champions title at the Garland – Dallas Texas State Regional Championships on Dec. 8. Matthews, Pacetti and Rodriguez have been working together as a team for the past two-and-a-half years.

Submitted by Tiffany Graber, Communications Specialist, Garland ISD.

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