MPHS robotics to rumble at state

Collette Mace
Homegrown Talent Initiative
Middle Park High School robotics team members, from left, Carter Dorbeck, Elaine Oliveira, Paddy Aither and Bridget Aither pose with their robot and advisor CarrieAnn Mathis and her service dog Guinness on Jan. 22 in West Grand. The team heads to state this Sunday.
Courtesy photo

For the first time, the robotics team at Middle Park High School is headed to state.

The club, composed of four students, is excited to be going to its first state competition on Sunday. The team this year is composed of Paddy Aither, who is a junior, freshmen Bridget Aither and Elaine Oliveira, and sophomore Carter Dorbeck.

The club has been active at Middle Park High School for three years thanks to teacher CarrieAnn Mathis, even though it has not had a straightforward journey thus far. During its first year at the high school, they were unable to compete after two members quit, leaving only one participant, now president Paddy Aither.

As far as the competition goes, the team members have been tasked with building and programming a robot that will be asked to perform a variety of tasks. Judges will be looking for qualities such as cooperation, teamwork, and problem solving, something Aither feels confident in.

“Robotics is kind of like a community,” he said.

When asked what he feels most proud of about the team, he emphasized how faithfully each member has stuck with the club, especially since it has become quite the commitment.

“In total, we probably spend about 60 hours working on the robot,” Aither said. “Then for the competition, we get up at 3:30 a.m. in order to be down in Denver by 7 a.m.”

In January of this year, the robotics club celebrated a victory in West Grand, where they won their alliance match and were honored with the Think Award by the FIRST Tech Challenge. The Think Award is given to the team that best shows the journey the team took as they worked their way through the engineering and design process.

Each teammate does their part, with each person having their own specific job. There is a programmer, an engineer, a designer and a general helper all working together cohesively to create a working robot.

Team captain Paddy Aither’s interest in programming has extended beyond the club as well. He has been accepted to and is enrolled in Stanford University’s summer session for computer science this year, and is excited to use his skills gained in the robotics club there.

The team is feeling excited and proud to be headed down to Chatfield High School in Littleton to compete against two dozen teams this Sunday.

Collette Mace is a senior at Middle Park High School. She is reporting for the Sky-Hi News through the school’s Homegrown Talent Initiative.

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