The Trenton High School Robotics Team took first place for the 1A to 4A group in the University Interscholastic League Robotics State Championship the early in December. The team was created two years ago and has made it to the state competition both years.
There are 37 students on the team out of a total 165 students on campus. Trenton HS Principal Jeremy Strickland said due to the small size of the school, a wide variety of students had to come together.
“We have athletes and non-athletes involved,” Strickland said. “It’s really been amazing to see how it’s brought so many students of different backgrounds and interests together. To see the result after just two years has been amazing.”
The team is led by Robotics Team Coach Larry Williams and Assistant Coach Ron Glaser. Williams also coaches football and teaches biology. Because the Robotics team began preparations during football season, Williams and the other football players on the team would begin work after football practice in the evening.
Last year, during the program’s inception, the team finished sixth at state. This early success sparked interest in the program, which has since doubled in size.
Williams attributes the team’s success this year to job specialization.
“When the team grew in size, it led us to break down the team into smaller groups,” Williams said. “The B.E.S.T. (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) competition is more than a robot build. You have to market the product. You have to have a design team. You have to have marketing. We broke the team down based on what people’s interest were. Some students worked on the robot while others worked on marketing. Each team was held accountable for their specific goals. That allowed us to reach the state level because the kids concentrated on what their expertise was.”
In addition to winning the overall championship, the team received five additional awards for the competition — Second place for the BEST award, First place for the Texas Instruments Project Engineering Notebook award, Second place for the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Exhibit and Interview Award, Second place for the Lockheed Martin Most Elegant Robot and First place for the State Farm Exhibit Design and Construction Award.
Williams explained the process is entirely student led. Each group within the team had a manager and the project as a whole had a president. These students were responsible for not only keeping their team on task but also communicating with the other teams to make sure they were all working in the same directions.
Strickland said the win has brought together the school and the community.
“We came home Saturday night to a Firefighter escort,” Strickland said. “It was celebrated like a sports state championship. What it’s done for us has been amazing.”
Williams agreed saying the local Fire Department was a big part of the project.
“We felt like we had the full support of the community,”Williams said. “Because the theme related to Firefighting, the local Fire Department was more than happy to help out. Local businesses also mentored our kids with engineering concepts. Administration and parent support was vital. We had great kids that worked really hard and I think ultimately their success is driven by support and dedication.”